By LORENA MONGELLI and KEVIN FASICK
NY Post EXCLUSIVE
February 18, 2010
Yo quiero bite you!
There were a record number of dog bites in the city last year — with pint-sized Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus surprisingly among the top five culprits, The Post has learned.
The city’s most vicious dog — measured by the number of bites on humans reported last year — was the pit bull, with 815 reported chompings. That’s nearly a quarter of the 3,609 bites recorded in 2010, the highest annual number in the data provided by the Health Department.
The pit was followed by the Rottweiler, Shih Tzu, Chihuahua and standard poodle.
The aggression by little dogs can sometimes be blamed on the way fashionable New Yorkers choose to cart them around while going shopping or running errands.
“Small dogs may frequently be put in situations that are more provocative than, say, a Labrador is exposed to,” said Dr. E’Lise Christensen, an animal behaviorist at NYC Veterinary Specialists.
“For example, most people don’t take their Labradors to Bloomingdale’s,” she said.
“We call it the ‘poor little rich dog’ effect, where people take their small dogs to department stores and all the sales people touch them. Owners get bitten, and stranger aggression is really a problem in dogs.”
Anthony Jerone, who runs a dog-training school in Queens, said that in the dogs’ minds, size doesn’t matter.
“Dogs don’t know how big they are,” he said. “Whether they are a 5-pound Chihuahua or a 100-pound Lab, they act out of instinct.”
Joy Oriol, 38, who was walking her pet pit bull on the Upper West Side, defended it as “playful.”
“They’re yippy and loud, and they have the Napoleon complex,” she said. “It’s just a given that when those kinds of dogs walk by, they’re going to be aggressive and act like, ‘You’re big, but I’m going to get you.’ ”
Staten Island dog trainer Amanda Quattrocchi said she was surprised that Shih Tzus were only five bites behind Rottweilers on the list.
“I know they are nippy but they don’t really bite that much. I have never worked with a Shih Tzu that is ferocious.”