The attack came so quickly that Luigi D’Orazio barely knew what was happening.
On the pleasant summer afternoon of Aug. 11, the 86-year-old man was walking his neighbor’s dog – a small Cockapoo – along Wallace Road on Grand Island.
Suddenly, a PIT BULL bashed its way through a screen window of a home on Wallace, bolted across a lawn and attacked the much smaller dog, Maggie.
“The pit bull brushed right past me and started chewing on Maggie. He tore a hole into her side ... he was mauling her,” D’Orazio recalled. “He was going for her throat. I tried kicking the pit bull. I couldn’t get him to stop.”
A neighbor, Joseph Marino, rushed to D’Orazio’s assistance, and the two men were finally able to pull the pit bull away. Maggie lost two ribs and a kedney and nearly died. She was in a veterinary clinic for 10 days. The medical bills, including emergency surgery, cost Maggie’s owner, Daisy M. Moore, $2,885.
“Some people say, ‘It’s just a dog attacking another dog,’ but for me, this is a nightmare,” Moore said. “I’m a 73-year-old widow. I live alone. Maggie is like my family.”
The attack on Maggie was one in a recent series of pit bull attacks, here and across the country.
Pit bulls have been responsible for about one-fifth of the 5,588 dog bites reported in Erie County over the past four years, according to the county Health Department.
And across the country, pit bull attacks killed 203 people over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2014, according to a national organization called dogbite.org. That is nearly two-thirds of the 326 dog-attack deaths reported during that period, more than all other dog breeds and varieties combined.
To be sure, many people consider the powerfully built pit bull to be a sweet and loving pet.
“They are loving, very loyal dogs, very welcoming to people who visit my home, very welcoming to small dogs and to kittens I bring home,” said Amy Lewis, who owns pit bulls and is executive director of the Niagara County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Lewis has two female pit bulls and has raised them since they were puppies. She believes that many of the pit bulls that attack people or smaller animals were abused or trained for illegal dog-fighting.
Nonetheless, many communities are taking steps to restrict pit bull ownership.
More than 700 communities in the United States have adopted laws declaring pit bulls “dangerous” or “vicious” dogs. Some – including Denver, Colo. and Pawtucket, R.I. – have banned pit bull ownership altogether.
Just over the border in the province of Ontario, residents are forbidden from buying, importing or breeding pit bulls. When they take the dogs out in public, they must wear leashes or muzzles.
Local SPCA officials said some of the major insurance companies won’t sell homeowners’ insurance to pit bull owners, and while others require pit bull owners to pay much higher premiums than those who own other dogs.
Local pit bull attacks
The attack on Maggie on Grand Island was one of at least five recent incidents in Western New York involving pit bulls.
• In Newfane on Oct. 4, a pit bull attacked its new owner, biting the man on the arm, leg, back and stomach and then biting the man’s wife on the stomach. The dog was taken to the Niagara County SPCA, where it is being evaluated.
• In Lockport on Sept. 26, a Pomeranian was attacked and killed by a neighbor’s pit bull. Police said the pit bull was being walked by a boy who could not stop the pit bull. The pit bull was returned to the Niagara County SPCA, where it had been adopted a short time earlier.
• At Buffalo’s Broadway Market on Aug. 29, a pit bull attacked a veterinarian, an Erie County SPCA worker and a third individual. Authorities said the dog bit people during a clinic where dogs were being given vaccines to protect them from parvovirus.
• At Delaware Park on July 10, Avi Israel, 63, was attacked and bitten by an unleashed pit bull. Israel said the pit bull initially attacked his beagle, and then bit Israel on the hands and arms when he pushed the pit bull away from his dog.
• At a farm in Hartland in Niagara County last October, two pit bulls killed four alpacas on Ridge Road. Deputies killed one dog and the owner of the two dogs later euthanized the other.
Merritt Clifton runs a not-for-profit organization called Animals 24-7 in the state of Washington.
He has studied and categorized hundreds of dog attacks in recent decades and believes many of the attacks occur after well-meaning people adopt pit bulls without getting sufficient information about the dogs’ breeding, training or temperament.
In his view, pit bulls are dangerous, unpredictable animals that shouldn’t be owned “by anyone.”
“Pit bulls that have been adopted from shelters have been responsible for many of these attacks,” he said. READ MORE HERE......