NEW YORK NY - AN EAST VILLAGE MAN, ED VASSILEY, WAS TAKING HIS PET DOG FOR A WALK WHEN A MALE PIT BULL SILENTLY B-LINED HIM LIKE A MISSILE - AS HE PICKED UP HIS VIZSLA TO PROTECT IT THE PIT GOT HIS ARM
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Just four days after punk-rock photographer Roberta Bayley’s pug was viciously attacked by a “crusty” pit bull outside Bayley’s St. Mark’s Place home, another pit belonging to the migrating tribe of young homeless “travelers” went on a rampage: This time, though, the victim wasn’t a dog — but an East Village man who was savagely bitten on his arm.
In the first attack, Sidney, Bayley’s pug, 14, was the victim on Sat., Aug. 1, around 8 a.m. The big brown pit bull, apparently unleashed, lunged off a couch on the sidewalk in front of Bayley’s building — as the man with the dog slept — and went right for Sidney’s throat. The little pug underwent surgery but died at the vet the next day.
Then, last Wednesday around 11:30 a.m., Ed Vassilev was taking Misha, his Vizsla — a Hungarian midsize-breed dog — for a walk on Second Ave. between E. Fourth and Fifth Sts., when a male pit bull down the block — next to two crusties slumped on the sidewalk, possibly nodding out — set its sights on the smaller dog. The black-and-white pit suddenly took off on a dead run down the empty pavement. It didn’t bark or growl — it just came silently speeding like a missile straight toward them.
“It was like from 50 feet away,” Vassilev told The Villager this Monday. “That dog saw my dog. He wasn’t on a leash. I picked up my dog. When he jumped up and bit me, it was like it was in slow motion. He got a chunk of my arm. It was brutal. It wasn’t a nip — he bit through my arm,” Vassilev said.
He was left with two deep bite wounds right above his elbow.
“I think two canines got in there,” he said of the deepest part of the gashes.
The banking consultant, 42, was treated in the emergency room at Beth Israel Hospital — where his triceps muscle had to be stitched back together — and was released later that night. But when he went to see a plastic surgeon that Friday, it was found that the arm wound was infected, and so he had to spend two days back in the hospital hooked up to antibiotic and morphine IV drips and popping Percocets.
Permanent nerve damageVassilev now only has partial feeling on the top of his arm from his elbow to his wrist, and probably will never regain full feeling again. He said the plastic surgeon — who was “fiddling with” his mangled nerves, pushing them back into place — explained what happened to him.
“I can move my arm. I can move my fingers,” Vassilev said. “I don’t have feeling on my arm. The plastic surgeon basically described it as a miracle that I can still move my fingers and my arm. The dog cut through the top layer of nerves, that’s why I can’t feel. There’s a second layer of nerves to move the fingers and the arm. I have really strong, thick arms. The doctor said someone slimmer would have certainly lost an arm.”
Vassilev said the plastic surgeon told him that he’ll need treatment on the limb through the end of the year.
As for the dog that attacked him, Vassilev said the last image he had of it was seeing its “red mouth” as he was getting into the ambulance.
Dog is ‘under observation’
Police responded to the scene and the dog was taken to Animal Care and Control where it is now “under observation for rabies” for 10 days, according to Vassilev. He has been unable, however, to get further information from A.C.C. about the dog, which he wants to ensure doesn’t get out to attack once more.
“We cannot see that dog come out again,” he stressed. “That dog is going to kill someone. Imagine if it was a little girl or boy that was attacked.”
A.C.C. did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
Vassilev, who has lived in the East Village since 2008, is shocked that this could even have happened.
“This is something new,” he said. “I’ve never been afraid of a homeless person’s dog before. … We live in the best city in the world, paying all our rent. How could this happen in New York — a dog running wild in the street?”
As for the two men with the pit bull, Vassilev said they didn’t look like they were exactly sleeping, but — judging by their slumped-over posture — were possibly nodding out on drugs.
“These two, they were especially crusty,” he said. “They had long beards, long hair, black clothes.”
Vassilev is not anti-pit bull, yet said they are just unpredictable.
“Ninety-nine percent of pit bulls are nice,” he said. “But there is always that one that is violent, because they are bred to fight.”
Not a criminal offense
He also was surprised to learn when he reported the incident at the Ninth Precinct that a dog biting a person is not considered a criminal offense.
“It’s a civil offense,” he said. “The only thing I can do is press civil charges.”
Deputy Chief James McCarthy, the executive officer of Patrol Borough Manhattan South, was on the detail at the Riots Anniversary Concert in Tompkins Square Park this past Sunday. Asked by The Villager about how police treat pit bull attacks, the former Ninth Precinct commander said officers will take action if a dog is “unleashed and causing a problem to the community.”
Cole, left, tongue kissing with his pit bull, Riley, with fiddle player Anthony in the background. Photo by Lincoln Anderson
Local crusties also told the Villager that their dogs are well-trained, cared for and well-behaved, and that Bayley's dog had been attacked by an animal that was mistreated by his previous owner. An animal trainer told the paper that while "the homeless have some of the best-behaved dogs," those dogs can become "territorial or guarding" if their owners are passed out or asleep. (We have seen that happen before, in fact.)