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Update: Deadly Pit Bull Attack in Mamaroneck Causes Death of Dog, Owner's Severed Fingertip

A 75-year-old woman's dog was attacked by an unleashed pit bull in Mamaroneck earlier this week.

Update 10/3/12: In response to last week's pit bull attack, Mayor Norm Rosenblum has asked the village attorney to look at local law regarding pit bull dogs. 

"While there may be an issue of enforceability on a law that addresses only one type of dog, the attorney's review and comments will be available for BOT and the public at the Oct. 9th meeting," he said in an email sent out this morning.

Rosenblum invited public comment on the issue at the Oct. 9 meeting, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Village of Mamaroneck Courtroom. Comments can also be sent to nrosenblum@vomny.org. 

An elderly Mamaroneck resident is recovering at home after a vicious pit bull attack on Wednesday that killed her dog and left her with only part of her finger remaining.

The 75-year-old woman was walking her 1-year-old Coton De Tulear—a small, long-haired French breed—on Florence Street on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at approximately 9 a.m., when the unleashed pit bull—whose owner lives on Jensen Avenue—began to attack her dog, according to Village of Mamaroneck (VOM) Police Spokesperson Det. Sandra DiRuzza.

As the woman attempted to separate the two dogs, she suffered several puncture wounds on her hands and the loss of one of her fingertips, said DiRuzza.

The pit bull’s owner has been charged under the Agriculture and Market Law with one count of a dangerous dog attack on a domestic animal, a violation.  He is due back in VOM court on Oct. 2, said DiRuzza.  He was not charged in connection to the attack on the woman because the woman was bit while attempting to rescue her dog.

Kim Stein, who also lives on Florence Street, told Larchmont Patch that she ran outside after hearing piercing screams.

“I witnessed the owner pulling his pit bull off of the victim who was on the ground with her dog, while he was kicking and punching his pit bull. Another neighbor had also been out there. I was in full panic mode and ran back into my house to call 911,” she said.

According to Stein, the pit bull owner’s residence borders both Florence Park and is within walking distance of Daniel Warren Elementary School.

“This could have been us. We are petrified to walk our dog now. I really want to know why this dangerous pit bull is still at it's residence and not impounded or taken away.  I feel violated in my own neighborhood—I no longer have the freedom to feel safe on my own street,” she said.

New York State Agriculture and Market Law 123 states the following:

3. Upon a finding that a dog is dangerous, the judge or justice may order humane euthanasia or permanent confinement of the dog if one of the following aggravating circumstances is established at the judicial hearing held pursuant to subdivision two of this section:

(a) the dog, without justification, attacked a person causing serious physical injury or death; or

(b) the dog has a known vicious propensity as evidenced by a previous unjustified attack on a person, which caused serious physical injury or death; or

(c) the dog, without justification, caused serious physical injury or death to a companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal, and has, in the past two years, caused unjustified physical injury or death to a companion or farm animal as evidenced by a “dangerous dog” finding pursuant to the provisions of this section. An order of humane euthanasia shall not be carried out until expiration of the thirty day period provided for in subdivision five of this section for filing a notice of appeal, unless the owner of the dog has indicated to the judge in writing, his or her intention to waive his or her right to appeal. Upon filing of a notice of appeal, the order shall be automatically stayed pending the outcome of the appeal.

It also states:

10. The owner or lawful custodian of a dangerous dog shall, except in the circumstances enumerated in subdivisions four and eleven of this section, be strictly liable for medical costs resulting from injury caused by such dog to a person, companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal.

VOM Police shot and wounded a pit bull on Barry Avenue in October of 2011 after it attacked a man in the middle of the street.  The dog was euthanized at the request of its owner.

Editor's Note: Information about the victim's dog's breed and age was added to an original version of this article.

Mike Rodriques October 08, 2012 at 08:06 PM
I think that's a great idea. I have 3 dogs, all covered for any damages they may do. I think it should be a requirement, but it probably never will be. As you can see by these boards, people would much rather yell about a problem then solve it. The only place I differ with you on your idea is that I wouldn't wait until the second time. I would seriously penalize and pull the pet on the first infraction.
Marissa October 09, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Oh please, look up the statistics on other breeds and stop vilifying Pitbulls. So I guess my dog actually isn't really great with my three nephews who are ages 6, 4, and 1. She probably also isn't deathly afraid of my sister's 10 lb Shih Tzu and doesn't back away from her own food bowl when the shih tzu bites her ears. I know more people who have been attacked by Dalmatians. It's all about how they're trained, like ANY dog. Shame on you all for being so painfully ignorant on this topic. ...I guess we should also ban people who are overly muscular because they have the potential to be very deadly... some who have been raised poorly have even killed people and also tend to be more violent... That's pretty much how silly you sound.
Marissa October 09, 2012 at 04:22 AM
So Amanda I take it you've never owned a Pitbull. Dog racists irk me.
Marissa October 09, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Well said Mike! Curtis and Harold, if you have a problem with our loving dogs move your ass somewhere where people will entertain your stupidity and cowardice. How can you not understand that you're being completely ridiculous. You are really just spewing out pure crap and know nothing about animals, especially pits.
Marissa October 09, 2012 at 04:45 AM
I live in Mamaroneck. A friend of mine was attacked by a dalmatian down the street from my house and had his eyebrow ripped open. My Pitbull was attacked by my neighbors Labrador Retriever through my fence and her nose is all scarred from it . Two weeks ago I witnessed an Akita attack a Puggle at a dog park in Cortlandt Manor and the poor Puggle's face was ripped apart. Why aren't people up in arms about ANY other dog attacks?! It is just absolutely flipping ridiculous and it blows my mind that this conversation is actually taking place. Obviously I feel terrible about the woman who was attacked but to ban a breed?! What the hell are you thinking people?
Marissa October 09, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Oh please, look up the statistics on other breeds and stop vilifying Pitbulls. So I guess my dog actually isn't really great with my three nephews who are ages 6, 4, and 1. She probably also isn't deathly afraid of my sister's 10 lb Shih Tzu and doesn't back away from her own food bowl when the shih tzu bites her ears. I know more people who have been attacked by Dalmatians. It's all about how they're trained, like ANY dog. Shame on you all for being so painfully ignorant on this topic. ...I guess we should also ban people who are overly muscular because they have the potential to be very deadly... some who have been raised poorly have even killed people and also tend to be more violent... That's pretty much how silly you sound.
NoBSLinWestchester October 09, 2012 at 05:22 AM
I sent a lot of comments and ideas for ideas that actually work to the town council, and shared on the Mamaroneck wall as well. Too large to post here, but if anyone is interested in ideas that don't result in good dogs taken from good homes, pile ups in our shelters and mass euthanasia, look here: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10151101745369538&id=93786579537
Harold1968 October 09, 2012 at 01:23 PM
NoBSLinWestchester, Isn't BSL a non-issue? From what I understand it's not permitted in New York. What is your opinion of liability insurance for all dog owners in Mamaroneck? If you don't show proof of liability insurance you can't obtain/renew a dog license. First offenders would receive a substantial ($1,000+) fine and second offenders would receive an additional fine ($1,000+) and have to forfeit their dog. This would separate the responsible dog owner from the irresponsible dog owner. Substantial fines and possible forefeiture would add teeth (no pun intended) to the law. I'm a dog owner and I have liability insurance for my dog. Shouldn't other dog owners be responsible and do the same?
Harold1968 October 09, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Marissa, There are reasons pit bulls are the focus of the attention here. First - the three publicized attacks in Mamaroneck in the last 12 months were by....guess who.....pit bulls. They weren't by labs, dalmatians or beagles. That's a fact that you can't change. If there were three violent attacks by hamsters in the last 12 months I would be concerned with hamsters. Second - there's an underclass in society that specifically raises pit bulls to be violent and aggressive dogs. There's no underclass raising poodles or golden retrievers to be violent and aggressive. This is a clear distinction that pit bull supporters don't want to accept. Pit bulls ARE different than other breeds. Do I need be armed when I walk the streets of Mamaroneck with my dog and my children? Is that what's becoming of this place? Instead of bashing people for being concerned for the safety of their pets and children how about providing some solutions. What specific changes would you make to prevent future pit bull attacks in Mamaroneck? Or are you OK with the occasional pit bull attack?
NoBSLinWestchester October 09, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Harold, I am not totally against liability insurance, but I don't think its the best way. Spay/neuter, leash laws, licensing, and training so far have all been more effective. In theory, not all good dog owners can afford insurance. Many people can barely afford the insurance they already have. I am concerned that path *could* prevent responsible owners adopting *any* breed due to additional expense. However, I find insurance a far more reasonable and realistic idea than banning breeds of dogs which statistically does nothing to lower dog bite statistics, tears apart families, and takes funds from other needed areas. I do agree that repeat offenders of any breed should probably be removed from communities. As someone was has been bitten by three different dogs (never once a pit bull, but the serious one was a springer spaniel who ripped a pig tail clear off my head when I was 5), I totally agree that really aggressive dogs should not be allowed to stay in communities with more than one incident, but I am very firm that this is NOT breed specific and bans won't help!
Harold1968 October 09, 2012 at 06:00 PM
NoBSLinWestchester, - I agree that a spay/neutering law should be implemented as long as there are substantial penalties ($1000+ fines and forfeiture of the animal) and the law is enforced. If it isn't enforced then there's no incentive to follow the law. - If I'm not mistaken Mamaroneck already has leash and licensing laws - neither of which of have prevented three pit bull attacks in Mamaroneck in the last 12 months. I'm not sure these have any impact. - I'm concerned with your statement that "Many people can barely afford the insurance they already have." The majority of posters on this site have emphasized that ALL dogs can be dangerous and not just pit bulls. If this is true then even "good dogs" could cause harm. If a "good dog" causes an injury then who will pay for the medical expenses? From what I understand the average dog bite costs several thousand dollars in medical expenses. Is it fair for the victim to have to pay for the medical expenses because the dog owner couldn't afford liability insurance? If you can't afford to cover the possible medical expenses caused by your dog should you even have a dog?
NoBSLinWestchester October 09, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Just as an example, look up Urgent Death Row Dogs......look at some of the cases in the Safe folders and what they had to go through. Many dogs get dumped at kill shelters by irresponsible owners. This summer was a HUGE crisis at NYC shelters because there were record owner dumps, many of which were put down. The good news is, hundreds upon hundreds of rescues and fosters stepped forward to temporarily take dogs until they can find permanent homes. If insurance was the answer, does that mean resuces need insurance to rescue dogs and short term forsters need insurance to help out for a few weeks or months? Any dog that enters your home needs insurance? Fosters are paid for by donations and rescues, and it would discourage literally thousands of people from saving a dogs life if the second it was in their possession they needed to take out policies. However, leash laws have shows promises in communities that enforce them, as do education programs and it is widely understood now that the majority of bites comes from unaltered dogs. Those are statistics that we can actually use and build on! I like the aspect that insurance put owness directly on the owner, but I can see this route having unexpected negative impacts as mentioned above.
Harold1968 October 09, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Can a rescue dog or a dog being fostered cause an injury?
Harold1968 October 09, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Couldn't a rescue or foster dog situation be even more volatile than a typical dog/owner situation? In rescue/foster situations the guardian is less familiar with the dog and the history of the dog. Rescue/foster dogs are often the dogs that are often raised to be violent.
NoBSLinWestchester October 09, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Harold, not necessarily. If a dog is dumped because the owner lost their job, became deathly ill, or is just plain incapable of caring for the animal, that doesn't mean the dumped animal is more volatile. And ANY dog, or animal or person can cause an injury. Doesn't mean we live in a bubble. Can I ask you, if you were going to a park and you KNEW that when you got there, you would find 5 medium-large dogs. What would make you feel better? To know the owner paid a few extra bucks to keep their dog or to know the dogs are going to be leashed and the dogs/owners underwent training together? Which of those makes you feel safer? I assume any owner or any community has X amount of money to spend on their animals/animal laws. I would feel safer knowing that that X amount of money went towards things known to work that show the owner is in control of their dog!
NoBSLinWestchester October 09, 2012 at 06:53 PM
And that is why I asked you to LOOK at the safe folders. You will see many dogs who got AMAZING behavior ratings and were former family pets that owners can't/don't want to care for any more. Also, are you familiar with the case of Michael Vick's dogs that have recently been used to overturn BSL in many other communities that it failed in. Almost all the dogs seized from his fighting ring are either police dogs, therapy dogs or hold other positions of title. Look it up, there is even a well known book on the topic.
NoBSLinWestchester October 09, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Aside from the issues of impact on shelters, I will give you another example. About 6 months ago, I was out on a walk in my neighborhood with one of my "pits", a staffordshire/dalmation mix. Same route I have walked every day since my childhood. I passed a house that had a VERY large brown male pit sat on the lawn. No owner present, no fence. This dog was double the size of my own, and me for that matter. My dog did not bark and adverted her eyes (she is very submissive) and when I passed by I nodded and said "good dog". We passed the house just fine. I still thought it was weird, but assumed there had been an electric fence. All the sudden the dog stood up and started charging at us, now a few houses up. My heart dropped to my stomach. My own dog, ran behind me and went flat on the ground. When the dog was a few feet away I yelled "STOP! DOWN! SIT! GET AWAY!" and the dog actually stopped, backed up a few steps and sat. I counted my lucky stars. What "helped" or "saved" my dog and I was clearly this dog was trained and socialized. If the owner paid for insurance instead of training, would that have the same effect? The owner should have been there, the dog should have been inside or fenced in, but in this case the dog knew how to listen and didn't further harass me and my own dog, who remained flat on the ground not making a sound the whole time.
Harold1968 October 09, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Ok NoBSLinWestchester, I want to get rid of the irresponsible dog fighting owners and their vicious dogs in Mamaroneck (and I will assume you do to) How does your leash law and training law do that? I'm an irresponsible guy with a vicious pit bull - but there's a leash law now so I go out and buy a leash for $5. Done. There's also a new training law - but who cares! I'm irresponsible so I'm not taking a stupid training course! Done. What's the next step NoBSLinWestchester?
NoBSLinWestchester October 09, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Then if the person who does not leash and train their dog and is found in violation gets punished. If there are spay/neuter laws enforced, that is not appealing to dog fighters. As stated 75%+ of serious dog bites come from unaltered dogs. That is not what "thugs" are looking for. If they have to have the dog altered before taking home (as many shelters currently are enforcing at least) and they have to license/register the dog regardless of breed and have a mandatory training course (maybe with a set amount of time to complete and log it), that is not a route MOST criminals will choose to take. And criminals aside, ANY owner knowing their dog will "sit" "down" "stay" "come" and "leave it" on command is a good thing. How does insurance alone help dogs to behave around people and people know how to responsibly manage their dogs?
Harold1968 October 09, 2012 at 08:30 PM
The dog wouldn't have been there in the first place if it was owned by an irresponsible, dog fighting owner-type. The owner wouldn't want to pay the $600 annual insurance premium required to own a large pit bull so he would move from Mamaroneck or give up the dog. If the dog was owned by a responsible owner then the situation wouldn't have been any different. Someone responsible enough to obtain liability insurance would most likely be responsible in other aspects of dog ownership. By the way - Did your experience take place in Mamaroneck?
Harold1968 October 09, 2012 at 08:36 PM
And what in your opinion is sufficient punishment to rid Mamaroneck of these thugs? What would your 1st/2nd/3rd offense punishments be?
NoBSLinWestchester October 09, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I am not a legislator, however, in that greater letter I wrote, which I assume you read, I noted several specific communities and their dog laws that WORK. As I stated before, I am not totally opposed to insurance on all dogs, but I just don't think that is THE BEST solution. There are no statistics or studies to back that course. But there have been considerable changes in communities with other non-BSL Dangerous Dog Laws in effect and those were the ones I discussed. The Calgary model is also great! And almost all communities that enforced BSL have had negative results, specifically decrease in dog bites. On your question, all I could give you is a personal opinion. I feel if any dog SERIOUSLY attacks a person without provocation (this does not include choosing to break up dogs that are mid-fight which is always ill advised), that dog is dangerous and should be removed. Or if a dog had multiple non-serious (even if just two) bites/incidents, they should be removed as well. In non-serious I wouldn't include scratches, non-fatal dog altercations, or anything that doesn't break skin. That targets ill behaved dogs and their owners. Or on the subject of licensing/training, any adopted/purchased dog has 14 days to sign up for obedience and 3-6 months to complete or a fine will be imposed? Again, drafting law is not my specialty, nor do I pretend it to be, but BSL is an extreme that we should not be discussing and ANY of these are superior alternatives.
Harold1968 October 09, 2012 at 09:10 PM
I believe a combination of spaying/neutering and liability insurance would be the most effective way to rid Mamaroneck of irresponsible owners and their vicious dogs. I see no reason why both shouldn't be implemented. I walk my dog (a rescue by the way) and my small children throughout Mamaroneck on a daily basis. Mamaroneck shouldn't be a place you have to worry about irresponsible dog owners and their vicious dogs.
NoBSLinWestchester October 09, 2012 at 09:22 PM
No community, including Mamaroneck should have to worry about vicious animals or irresponsible owners. And people can easily work together to accomplish that without putting the mark of cain and a death sentence on a specific breed of dog. I would just rather see funds going to educate dog owners and their pets than going to making insurance companies richer. And that question I asked you about going to the park, I know I would feel better knowing those dogs were spayed/leashed/trained than an owner paid a little extra money. Neither of our solutions may be 100% perfect, but they are for sure better than bans.
BellaBaby October 09, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Now this conversation is finally making sense guys ;-)
Selena January 06, 2013 at 12:02 AM
I fell so bad for all the pitbull attacks who ever has a pitbull train it good not bad and those puppies who are severely injured stay away from pitbulls
Selena January 06, 2013 at 12:04 AM
You should sue the owner who's pitbull attacked a puppie
The truth January 16, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Dear Pit Bull owners, you might want to check your homeowners policy, you will find that you are not covered if your dog attacks because it is listed as a dangerous breed. So when your dog bites me and I sue you for 10 million you are liable for every dime of that 10 million. I own your house, all your investments and most of your income for the rest of your life. Want some liability insurance, I checked a typical policy for a pit bull costs about $600 a year for $100,000 in coverage so budget for about $60K a year for the dog's liability policy. If the dog has ever bitten anyone it is un-insurable. Your parents were watching the dog when it got loose, I am suing them and you. Your vet has seen the dog, yep suing him for everything he has. I will also sue your Home Owner's Association for allowing you to own the dog. You are feeding a $10,000,000 liability every time he walks up to the food bowl. And there is a good chance I will get you sent to jail for criminal negligence. Enjoy your pit bull.
Charles Lauria January 16, 2013 at 02:30 AM
Get a life dude. How bout you just work hard for your money and stop relieing on an attack. You seem to be looking to get bit . and it's funny because the owner in this article who happens to be my friend his insurance covered it. know what you're talking about before you speak.
NoBSLinWestchester January 16, 2013 at 04:38 AM
Wow "The Truth", who's the real "pit bull" here? I agree with Mr. Lauria, work hard for your money and stop looking for things you can potentially sue for. Its far more likely in this country that overly litigious folks like you will ruin someones life or family than any dog breed out there.

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