Sunset Park – Following last week’s horrific attack of a South Slope dog by four alleged pit bulls, a 31-year-old man killed a pit bull mix as it attacked his dog yesterday morning in Sunset Park.
Johnny Rivera was walking his Italian Mastiff, Annakin, on 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues Thursday morning, August 17, at approximately 8:40am when a pit bull mix named Oba got loose from a nearby business, Yeung’s Trading Corp., and charged at them, according to the New York Daily News.
As Oba attacked Annakin, biting at his head and ear, Rivera tried fighting him off by pushing, kicking, and punching the dog, he told the paper. Desperate to save his dog, Rivera pulled out a pen knife and stabbed Oba to death, the paper adds.
An EMS unit that happened to be in the vicinity of the attack tried unsuccessfully to save Oba. The dog belonged to the owner of Yeung’s Trading Corp. located at 215 51st Street.
Rivera’s dog Annakin suffered injuries to his head, neck, and ear, requiring stitches, the Daily News reports, as well as a broken tooth.
Rivera was arrested at approximately 9:35am and charged with criminal possession of a weapon, the NYPD told BKLYNER, but would not provide further details of the incident.
“Why was I getting arrested? I just defended myself,” Rivera said to the Daily News.
Some of the commenters from last week’s story about the South Slope attack might feel similarly confused and as frustrated as Rivera. Several shared stories of feeling helpless after their own dogs were attacked, as the city has no current law that holds dog owners accountable if their dogs attack another dog.
On Friday morning, a 311 operator told BKLYNER, “911 accepts reports of animals currently threatening or endangering people,” however callers “cannot file a complaint about animals that have bitten other animals.”
A representative at the ASPCA suggested a call to the Department of Health who handles cases of dangerous dogs and dog attacks, but only in cases where people are harmed, not pets. BKLYNER reached out to DOH but did not hear back prior to posting.
The NYC Health website features a page where people bitten by a dog or other animal can file a report, however it’s only for people, not dogs who are bitten or attacked.
A 2011 New York Magazine article details the writer’s frustrating experiences trying to find justice for her dog after it was brutally attacked by a pack of wild dogs living on the streets on the westside of Manhattan. She was told repeatedly by various city agencies that they did not handle “dog-on-dog” attacks.
“Dog experts will tell you that dogs who attack other dogs often go on to attack people around them as well,” Kenneth Phillips, an attorney and author of various books on dog-related laws, states in the article.
Perhaps the only thing neighbors can do to protect themselves and their pets from dangerous dogs is to try to avoid them by going to parks during hours when leash regulations are enforced.
Detective Joseph Mayrose Park, where last week’s attack occurred, does not have any designated off-leash areas, a NYC Parks representative says. Dogs should be on-leash between 9am until 9pm.
“We encourage all New Yorkers to help us maintain the safety of the park by reporting any rule violations to 311,” the rep adds.
According to NYC Parks:
- The Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) works with NYPD to enforce leash regulations between 9am and 9pm
- On hours when dogs are allowed to be off leash, they must still be under control of their owner and may not harass wildlife
- PEP officers may issue violations to owners who are unable to control their dogs, regardless of the time of day or whether the dog is leashed
The penalty for having an unleashed/uncontrolled animal(s) in a park is $100 to $150 for a first-time offense and $250 to $375 for subsequent offenses, according to the NYC Parks website.
BKLYNER has reached out to several city agencies for additional information on how dog owners can report dog-on-dog attacks and dangerous dogs in their neighborhoods. We will update when more information becomes available.