Nasty, snarling menaces — or loyal, lovable dogs?
The nearly fatal mauling of 5-year-old Jeremiah Rivera of Brooklyn has reignited a debate for New York City residents: whether pit bulls should be allowed as pets.
Reading: Why are pit bulls not banned
Many experts contend there is no credible evidence the dogs are more dangerous than others, while some insist they were bred for violence and are not safe to keep in homes.
More than 700 US cities have already enacted breed-specific legislation — which typically regulates or bans pit bulls — and in the Big Apple, they’ve been banned from NYCHA housing.
“They were selectively bred to execute the killing bite — to attack without warning,” said Colleen Lynn, who runs DogsBite.org. “No growl, bark, or direct stare, and they will continue until death. Those are the three keys that make them more dangerous than other breeds.”
Between 2005 and 2015, 360 Americans were killed by canines — and pit bulls were involved in 64 percent of the fatal attacks, according to DogsBite.org.
Many New Yorkers have experienced firsthand what it’s like to be attacked by a pit bull.
Little Jeremiah needed 2,000 stitches after being maimed on Saturday by a pit bull his father was temporarily caring for at their East New York home.
His dad, Joel, woke up from a nap to find Jeremiah choking on his own blood.
“He didn’t have a face,” the devastated father said. “Just teeth — that was all I could see.”
Also Read: Biggest eagle in the world
In December, 72-year-old Abdul Hakim was suddenly attacked by a pit bull in the Bronx as he walked to a mosque with his 9-year-old grandson. The dog bit him several times, and his wounds required surgery.
Two months earlier, a pit bull bit a woman and a 16-month-old boy in the laundry room of an East Harlem apartment building.
And last May, a dog owner’s arm was nearly ripped off when several of his pit bulls attacked him in his Brooklyn apartment.
Pit bulls have been a problem in the city for years.
In November 2011, cops shot a pit bull that had bitten a 16-year-old boy on Staten Island, then charged at the officers. The teen was visiting a friend, a 12-year-old boy, and was attacked as soon as his pal opened the door.
In 2004, a pit bull turned on his owner’s boyfriend inside a Brooklyn apartment, biting his hand.
“I wouldn’t let my kids play with them,” said mom-of-two Kelinda Waller, 43.
“That’s why we got a small dog — they’re safer for the kids. Dogs like that shouldn’t be around kids, period. There’s just too much potential for disaster. As a parent I wouldn’t want to risk it,” she said.
Dog owner Kate Lindsey, 34, said she is not sure there should be a ban on pit bulls, but that more regulations would be a good thing.
“Especially if they’re going to be in an environment where there’s children,” she added.
Also Read: My cats fur looks separated
But many pit bull owners and advocates are adamant that bad dogs are the result of bad owners, and they are not inherently more violent.
“Pits aren’t any more dangerous than any other dog when unmonitored and untrained,” said Ronnie Vanzant, a dog trainer and founder of Pitbull Advocates of the United States. “They need to be trained and raised responsibly their entire life.”
“Any breed is at risk for biting somebody,” he added. “Unfortunately, the craze is to get on top of the pits.”
The firefighters of Engine 15/Ladder 18 on the Lower East Side, dubbed Fort Pitt for its Pitt Street location, are now well acquainted with the cute and cuddly side of pit bulls after recently adopting one named Ashley — affectionately called Ash for short — who was saved from a Staten Island crack den by a nonprofit animal group.
The 1-year-old pup’s Instagram account, @probyash, which is maintained by the station, shows the pooch hanging out in the firehouse’s kitchen, riding in a firetruck and hanging out with her new family.
“From the crackhouse to the firehouse. Life is good,” her bio on the social media site reads.
When the animal group picked up the dog on Jan. 9, she was “filthy,” “extremely malnourished” and about 25 pounds underweight with cigarette burns on her head, Erica Mahnken, the co-founder of No More Pain Rescue, told The Post on Monday. “Despite all that, Ash was so happy to see us.”
Mahnken said she and her fiancé have a few friends at the firehouse and knew they were looking to adopt a pup, so she contacted them right away.
Ash spent her first night away from the crackhouse at the firehouse. “The minute we walked her through those doors, we knew that’s where she was meant to be,” Mahnken said.
“Every single Fort Pitt firefighter instantly fell in love with her, and she fell even more in love with them.”
Additional reporting by Gina Daidone
Also Read: How to give a dog heimlich