Tuesday’s Daily News reports the aftermath of a fatal dog mauling by an unleashed pit bull, albeit one that seems to have started out leashed:
The owner of a tiny terrier mauled to death by a rampaging pit bull named Spike is taking the fight to the big dog with a $250,000 lawsuit.
Sandy Lee is suing Spike's owner after her beloved 3-pound Yorkie, Dior, was torn into while taking a birthday trot on E. 54th St. in April.
"The pit bull was huge and you could see the intensity in its eyes," Lee said. "It was coming for a kill."
Lee, 33, had just taken Dior to buy $50 worth of snacks for his third birthday when Spike broke free from his leash and pounced on the tiny pooch.
Can a dog really break free from a leash (if the leash doesn’t break and the owner doesn’t let go)?
This is far from the first fatal mauling of another dog by a pit bull that’s off-leash. Here’s another one, at a dog beach at Huntington Beach (California, I guess) last March, and
a third one, at the Long Beach, CA dog beach last January. Others are catalogued here
(although—full disclosure—the website’s stated purpose is to advocate banning pit bulls). But while pit bulls generally may be a problem—according to this report on the dogbitelaw website, based on compiled press reports, pit bull terriers were involved in half of the dog attack deaths and maimings in the U.S. & Canada September 1982 to November 13, 2006—the common denominator is most often that the attacking dog was off-leash. In some cases, it may be that an entirely different breed was involved; in one attack—last October at Prospect Park's dog beach-- that was initially reported to be a fatal attack by a pit bull on a dachshund, it turned out that the perpetrator wasn’t a pit bull after all (and the attack wasn’t fatal). Plainly, dogs that are active and aggressive—just the type of dogs that have “excess energy” that can supposedly be vented only by letting them off-leash—are just the ones who need, for everyone’s safety, to be kept securely on-leash in public.
One would think there ought to be strict liability for attacks by dogs that are unleashed, deliberately or accidentally. That would at least curb irresponsible behavior by owners who care about losing their assets. It still is no solution for the many dog owners who, for whatever reason, do not.
* * * * * * *
Prospect Park this morning around 9 A.M., PE#1-Marcia was spotted with her two unleashed terriers. A park worker instructed her to leash them, which did not stop her from being observed with her unleashed dogs 50 minutes later in the Midwood. And around 8:45 A.M., 4 unleashed dogs were observed in the Ravine: a golden setter accompanied by a middle-aged white woman, a pit bull and mongrel with a young white man, and a pit bull with two black men.