Fight at the Dog Park

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LOWER EAST SIDE, NY (WPIX) —After a recent spate of pit bull attacks at an East Village dog run, fearful pet owners have begun to arm themselves.

Tompkins Square Park dog owners claim there have been five attacks by pit bulls on other dogs and humans at the dog run since September, and they fear for their pets.

“I mean when you see a pit bull latching on to another dog, there is no letting go,” said Ellen Burton.

So owners are taking matters into their own hands, and several dog lovers are now reportedly packing knives, hammers and other weapons when they visit the dog run.

“In every dog run there is a fight — it happens, it’s like a playground with kids — the only difference is, pit bulls finish fights,” said one dog owner.

There is a sign at the entrance clearly stating that dog owners are always legally responsible for any damages their canines do, but that hasn’t prevented the pit bull attacks.

“It’s not necessarily (the case of) a bad owner, but if you know you have a dog that is aggressive you are a bad owner if you bring your dog to the park,” said New York veterinary specialist E’lise Christensen.

Some dog owners blame the nearby Social Tee Animal Rescue, but founder Robert Shapiro thinks he’s being targeted unfairly. “The minute a dog gets into a fight at the dog run my name is mentioned . . . I’m sure some have been from me, (but) my policy is no pit bulls at the dog run,” Shapiro said.

The Parks Department says they’ve met with the NYPD and community groups on the issue and have installed undercover units to patrol the area.

This story and video originally ran on WPIX, Channel 11 on December 15, 2010.