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.

17 thoughts on “Rights of NYC Dogs and Their Humans”

  1. I know and sorry I’m posting this so far after the fact. If you are having a problem with a person and their dog but don’t feel comfortable or able to get their name and info, the next time you see the person (with or without their dog) discretely follow them home. If they are on foot, it can’t be that far away. At the very least, you’ll have an address to start with and Google is surprisingly helpful searching for identities. If the person lives in a doorman building, one day strike up a conversation with the doorman. Persistence and discretion prevail.

    No dog is allowed to attack another person or dog in NYC. It kills me to think of how many predatory dogs are out there and the terrible things that can very easily happen to our dogs because of it. Don’t let people get away with it if at all possible. I hope all your dogs are ok and adjusting properly.

    1. Hi Daniel,
      Thanks for your reply. Sadly, I have found out that Emma has attacked many other dogs in Central Park, and on the streets of the UWS off leash. She even chased a dog out of the park and across CPW. We are now a strange little ‘victims of Emma’ club and when we see one another out walking we let the other know if we have seen her so we can avoid her on the streets and the park. We have all rearranged our walking schedules and paths to keep away from her. But, we do all know where she lives, now so we can at least avoid that block on Columbus between 97th and 96th Streets. I hope her handler will hear enough of us telling her to put her dog on a leash, but we all keep avoiding her like the bully on the playground.

  2. I am so sorry that happened!
    Recently I took Wilbur to the park when two unleashed dogs showed up. Luckily they were not aggressive but even that encounter was stressful for Wilbur and me( he did much better than me!).
    Its just not a fair thing to do

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about this and hope Pax’e is ok. I live in the area and have a service dog. It’s unimaginable that police cannot arrest her for having her dog off leash. Maybe you could get a video of Emma’s bad behavior because she is a danger to dogs and humans? If you see me walking my service dog, please say hi.

    1. Hi Claudia,
      Thanks for checking in. Pax’e is physically okay, but more skittish out on her walks (I am too). I worry about people using service dogs around off-leash un-managed dogs like Emma. I walk with a cane and know how hard it is to wrangle a dog with my limitations. Some people get it and others don’t. I’d be happy to say hi, what does your dog look like?

      1. He is a yellow lab and usually wearing his service dog coat. He already got nipped on the nose by one dog whose owner said she was friendly but then lashed out after she strained on her leash to have a sniff. I have taken to saying “LEAVE IT” to my dog really loud when we pass by other dogs. I don’t care if other people think this is rude. My dog has only been in Manhattan for about 2 months and I can already see that he also checks behind him, startles when joggers run past him from behind and he has also taken to whining when he sees other dogs. Not good, as he didn’t do these things before. But, I understand that he has become uneasy and I’m not sure how to nip this in the bud (sorry for the bad pun!). Maybe I once saw you in Duane Reade up on 103rd? Please say hello if you see us. Thanks!

  4. My sympathies. I’m still angry about the vicious poodle-mix named Oscar (owned by “Mark”) who used to attack and threaten my tiny terrier on a daily basis. Mark was unable or unwilling to do anything to train or restrain his dog. All my friends stopped going to the 87th Street dog run because of them, but my dog loved it and had to go every day. We would stay in the small dog run, but Oscar would growl, bark and lunge at us from across the fence incessantly. One time, outside the dog run, he was OFF LEASH, and attacked my dog, who was on a leash, shaking her in his jaws while I tried desperately to free her. No apology. No change in behavior.
    There is very little that can be done. During that period the dog run manager refused to take any action and other big dog owners were downright bullying, even after the unprovoked attack.

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Thanks for sharing that story. It is very difficult to go out each day wondering if you and your dog will be assaulted. And, even more difficult when a request for help is met with more bulling. I hope your Tiny Terrier was unharmed and all is quiet on the Oscar-front. Keep in mind that Emma has been spotted in the 86th Street area as well.

  5. I have probably met Emma, on Amsterdam Ave. at 97th St. Fortunately,. my dog, Fanny, was not there. I will keep a look out next time I am in that neighborhood and say something to the owner if Emma is off leash. It would NEVER orrur t me to walk Fanny off leash, even though she sticks to my side. Just a DUMB thing to do.

    1. Hi Barbara,
      Thanks for the reply. Yes, the sight of a Giant Schnauzer walking off-leash in NYC is something we remember! It would be great if you would say something to her about the leash. When I did, I was told I was “unfriendly.” Ugh! There have been reports of Emma all the way down to 86th Street.

  6. In the meantime, could you carry Spray Shield or another type of Citronella spray on you to try to deter Emma or other off-leash, aggressive dogs from getting too close? Another tactic, if the on-coming dog will eat, maybe carry some high value treats on you to broadcast away from you and your dog as the other dog advances.
    It’s very scary to have a dog with predatory behaviors loose in your area with an owner who doesn’t seem to care. Makes walking nerve-racking. Hoping something will change before anyone gets seriously injured (physically or mentally).

    1. Hi Auditi,
      Thanks for your reply. Funny you mention the spray and the treats. I always tell my clients the same strategy to toss the treats but Emma’s assault was a perfect storm; I walk with a cane so have limited hands to wrangle Pax’e and toss treats, Emma’s attack was from the behind so I didn’t see her coming until she was on Pax’e and at that point there would be no Super High Value Treats to make her break off. I did get the spray, but again with only one hand free, I think I’d be spraying myself in no time. Indeed, walking is nerve-racking and I see it in Pax’e who is now constantly looking back over her shoulder.

  7. Lisa I’m so sorry you & Pax’e have experienced this trama. Is there any way to video a future encounter & file a civil suit? I know it takes time & money but someone or pup WILL get injured it’s only a matter of time

    1. Hi Nancy,
      The civil remedy requires me to know the woman’s name and address. This is not unlike the authorities saying to a mugging victim, “You get the name of the guy and then we’ll take a look…” I have her on video walking the dog off leash, but again, I don’t think she will give me her name and address…

  8. This really is terrifying and the owner’s indifference just baffles me. My little schnauzer (a friend to all dogs and humans) was attacked with murderous intent by a much larger dog–without provocation or warning. The details are horrific so I won’t post them here. Ultimately she was fine physically but never really recovered her joyful abandon. I continue to love and trust most dogs but this incident changed me also.

  9. Wow. I think this is so irresponsible and what will happen if Emma kills a dog? I’m also stunned that the police can’t do anything, she’s breaking the leash law yes? I think everyone she comes in contact with her should yell at her to leash her dog. And what if her dog gets hit by a car? I hope Pax’e is ok. As you well know, this creates trauma for any pup. IGH. This gets me so friggin’ angry.

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