Rights of NYC Dogs and Their Humans

Emma off leash W. 97th Street, NYC

Emma, a female Giant Schnauzer walks the Upper West Side of Manhattan off leash.

She outweighs my dog, Pax’e, by about twenty-five pounds and has gone-after Pax’e on multiple occasions.

These were targeted attacks, beginning with a predatory assault in Central Park which Emma would not break off until I intervened.

Subsequent attacks occurred on Ninety-seventh Street and the parking lot of Park West Village, each marked by escalating intent and aggression.

In an attack on December 29th, Emma ran across Ninety-seventh Street to bite Pax’e on the butt slamming Pax’e into a parked car on the street, then continued to peruse Pax’e. As I tried to get us away, Emma bit Pax’e again, lunging, growling, and snapping at her while I circled Pax’e to stay between Emma’s advances and Pax’e. This attack occurred in front of P.S. 163. What if children had been out there at the time?

Flaunting the leash law, Emma’s owner continues to walk Emma off leash on Ninety-seventh Street and probably others with little regard for the safety of dog or human.  Today, January 6th, Emma entered Central Park off leash at 103rd Street after the 9 AM leash restriction was in effect.

I was able to keep Emma away from Pax’e, but shortly after Emma and her human continued towards the Pool at 100th Street, I heard a dog fight. Emma was attacking a Boarder Collie named Nikko. I checked in with Nikko and her owner, Cecilia, afterwards. As she does with Pax’e, Emma targeted and attacked Nikko who had been playing with Cecilia. After the episode, Nikko was visibly shaking with her tail wrapped tight to her belly. Cecilia was also visibly shaking.

These details are important to underscore that Emma’s attacks are not like the occasional dog greeting that turns into canine trash talking. Emma is targeting Pax’e and other dogs aggressively.

Events like these highlight a few of the rights that all New York City dogs and their humans have:

  • All NYC dogs have a right to not be targeted by another dog on the streets or in the parks.
  • All NYC dogs have a right to not be subjected to this kind of stress and the potential that this trauma will cause them to become fearful of other dogs.
  • All the dogs have the right to be safe from predatory or dog-aggressive dogs.
    • It is unlikely Pax’e and Nikko are the only dogs Emma has gone after.
  • All New York City dog owners have a right to walk our dogs out our front doors without the fear that this will be the walk when a dog like Emma seriously injures our dog.
  • Dogs need to be walked on leash in New York City for their own safety and in Emma’s case, the safety of others.
  • Any dog has a right to not like another dog, but they cannot be allowed to act on these feelings because of irresponsible handling.

I have worked with clients whose dogs have had much more reactive/aggressive behaviors than Emma. These handlers have been responsible. They’ve kept their dogs on a leash, done training and behavior modification, and managed their dog’s access to other dogs in order to keep their dogs and other dogs safe. I thank every dog handler in New York City who works to keep a dog-reactive dog managed and socially responsible.

I am reminded of the Siberian Husky named Charlie who killed one dog in Central Park in 2018 and mauled another one in 2019. Could these attacks have been avoided if there had been a recourse to alert dog owners in the area? There was no way Charlie’s two known episodes were isolated behaviors without prior actions that predicted harm.

Is there a resource I don’t know about?

311 says to call the police. The police can’t do anything until there is an injury to a human. And injury or death to another dog is a civil matter.

If you see Emma, please be careful.

And please remind her human to put Emma on a leash.