UPDATE: The Pit Bull, named Star, actually survived the shooting and is in stable condition at Animal Care and Control of NYC, according to a story today on Gothamist.com.
A homeless man and his Pit Bull mix were longtime fixtures on 14th Street in Manhattan’s East Village.
“We see this dog outside of KFC every day,” Eddie Huang, a celebrity chef and owner of the nearby Baohaus restaurant, told The Observer (warning: graphic photos in this link and others).
“It’s usually a nice dog,” Huang said. “[The dog and the man] don’t bother anyone. Everyone in this restaurant knows this.”
Late yesterday afternoon, the man had a seizure and lost consciousness on the sidewalk.
An unidentified eyewitness told Gothamist.com, “The dog was barking very loudly, as though it were protecting its turf. The man was kneeling and then he kind of slumped over, and the dog was barking over him.”
“I saw an elderly woman approach the dog, and heard police requesting that she keep her distance,” another witness, “AteBall,” commented on the Observer story. “She continued, and the dog approached her and bit her leg. I do not think that it was being hostile, but it was clearly biting her … This is when the dog turned to the police and approached them. I can’t really blame the dog, because it’s a dog and had no clue what was going to happen.”
The unidentified eyewitness told Gothamist.com the officers sprayed mace at the dog. “That’s when it took a few steps toward [the officers], and I heard one shot … There were a lot of people around, and I didn’t hear them tell anyone to clear off.”
The dog didn’t immediately die. Huang tweeted, “Pig shot a dog and let it die slow.”
He told The Observer, “We heard the gunshot and we all ducked, and saw people running and screaming … by the time I get there, I can see the dog whipping around and convulsing … People were really, really vocal, harassing the cops to put the dog down, and they wouldn’t do it. ”
“There was a little boy closer to the scene with his dad, and he started bawling,” the unidentified eyewitness told Gothamist.com. “It was just very shocking to see an animal killed – as the owner of a shelter animal myself, it was just so sad.”
“They really should’ve put that dog out of its misery,” Huang told The Observer. “… We’ve all seen ‘Old Yeller.’ We all know the right way to do this.”
Just last Saturday, the NYPD was criticized for shooting a knife-wielding man 10 times in crowded Times Square.
Unfortunately, incidents of police officers shooting dogs, especially Pit Bulls, are not uncommon. In one notorious 2010 case, a police officer threw a rescued dog named Parrot down a stairwell during a street festival in Washington, D.C., and then shot and killed the dog as he struggled to stand up.
Perhaps with increased training in dealing with animals, police officers can learn to deal with “vicious” dogs more humanely, just as Dan Waskiewicz of the Baltimore Police Department did last month.
Responding to a call about a dangerous Pit Bull on the loose, Waskiewicz called the dog over to him and offered him water. He transported the pooch via his patrol car to a local animal shelter – and a few days later, adopted the dog, who is now named Bo.