Rockville animal control officers yesterday seized the three Rottweilers that mauled a woman and child Saturday after the dogs' owners removed the animals from their home and refused to disclose their whereabouts to city officials.

"The city has the dogs," Mayor Douglas M. Duncan said. "The owners broke the quarantine order requiring them to keep the dogs inside or not to take them beyond their lawn."

Last night, the city's Animal Control Board agreed to postpone until Oct. 2 a hearing on the fate of the dogs after the owners, Paul and Hagit Levin, asked for more time to present their side of the story.

"We're extremely sorry," Hagit Levin said. "We need more time to determine how we feel about the dogs," she said to a standing-room crowd of about 80 people at the Animal Control Board meeting. She said she had arranged to place two of the dogs in a new home, but was undecided about the oldest one.

The board ordered the dogs to remain in the city's custody until its makes a final decision.

Duncan said city officials were notified about noon that the Levins had taken the dogs from their house in the 400 block of Green Pasture Drive. Several city police officers and animal control officers then fanned out to look for the dogs at area kennels, he said.

By 3 p.m., the dogs, named Cesar, Bear and Lear, were found at a kennel in Potomac. The city is allowing the dogs to stay there and is paying to board them, Rockville officials said. City officials said they won't identify the kennel to protect the dogs.

Mark Joffe, whose wife, Arlynn, and 3-year-old son, Brett, were attacked by the three dogs, said he was pleased with the city's action.

"We wanted the dogs out of the neighborhood," Joffe said. Arlynn Joffe, 39, who required 150 stitches for leg and thigh wounds suffered in the attack, was released yesterday from Holy Cross Hospital, he said.

Witnesses said the three dogs apparently escaped from a yard and mauled Joffe and her son as they were walking along the quiet residential street.

A neighbor rushed to the Joffes' assistance, pulling the mother and child away from the dogs, neighbors said.

Mark Joffe, who attended last night's Animal Control Board meeting, appeared overcome with emotion and unable to deliver a prepared statement. During graphic testimony about the dogs' attack on his family, Joffe bowed his head and cried.

Norman Oremland, president of the neighborhood citizens group, read Joffe's statement, which asked the board to either destroy the animals or permanently ban them from the community. Several residents testified that the neighborhood lived in fear of the dogs' return.

Hagit Levin, 25, said she had raised the two year-old dogs and their 4-year-old mother, and said, "They are the most friendly creatures in the world."

But Levin said Saturday's attack on her neighbor had left her with second thoughts: "My love for them has been very much shaken. I don't love them as much as I did before."