NEW YORK (CBS 2) — For more and more dog owners in the East Village, the pit bull has become the pet of choice – but that trend is frightening owners of other breeds.
In fact, some of those pet owners told CBS 2’s John Metaxas that they’re now carrying weapons to protect themselves and their animals.
“I’m a peaceful, loving guy, you know, and I love animals, but I’m simply not going to let my dog be killed,” dog owner John Juback said.
Juback said these days, he goes out armed when he walks his dog.
“It’s just a kitchen knife, nothing more than that,” he said.
Juback said he feels that he needs to after he and his terrier mix, Jesse, were attacked by a pit bull in the dog run in Tompkins Square Park.
“In a second, the dog went for Jesse’s throat – he got his skin under his jowl,” Juback said. “I was very lightly bitten in the face, but it drew blood, and I had to get a rabies shot.”
Some dog owners said it can be hard to tell the difference between play and aggression, and that pit bull attacks have been happening with disturbing frequency lately.
“I’ve seen people being bitten,” Eileen Bertin said.
“Biting other dogs and holding onto ears to the point of blood, and a lot of people had to come and separate the dogs,” Paul Melcher said.
Others, though, say don’t blame the breed.
“I’ve seen pit bull fights – they are nasty,” dog owner Brian Hedenberg said. “But that doesn’t mean the pit bull is bad. It might just need some love and affection.”
Most dog owners would never consider carrying a weapon, but Juback said he will defend himself.
“God forbid my dog is ever attacked by any vicious, uncontrollable dog – I’m not simply going to stand there,” he said.
Everyone agrees, though, that it’s up to dog owners to be responsible.
The Parks Department said it has assigned officers to monitor the dog run to minimize conflicts.
On Saturday morning, an expert is being called in to talk to owners about how to train their dogs – and how to handle a dog fight.