2008-05-09 / Top Stories

Dog Park Attack Leaves Puppy Hospitalized

By Nicholas Briano

A Rockaway woman says that her life has been devastated after her sixmonth old cocker spaniel was brutally attacked by a two dogs while playing inside the Freeway Dog Park at Beach 81 Street on April 30.

According to Rockaway resident Zucchuni Murphy, it was a sunny morning when she took her cocker spaniel, Zales, for a workout at the local dog park so he could run free and play with the other dogs.

However, after Murphy took the leash off Zales, he was immediately approached by a German shepard and a pit bull that began sniffing him. The pit bull attacked the small puppy, Murphy said, causing several severe bite marks from which he started bleeding profusely.

According to Murphy, a high fever and risk of infection from the bites are keeping Zales at the veterinarian for a costly $200 per day.

"That dog is like my baby," Murphy said. "I just got him only six months ago. I'm devastated."

"My puppy is in the animal hospital in Rockaway with tubes in him to drain blood and fluids," she continued. "The only thing I can do is cry. I can't eat. I can't sleep. I can't focus at work."

After the pit bull grabbed Zales, the German shepard joined in, but Murphy says she was able to kick him and scare him away.

Zales was attacked again when she was trying to get her dog out of the park. Aman ran toward them screaming, "Poncho," which is reportedly the pit bull's name.

"I was screaming and crying. The owner grabbed his dog Poncho and we began to pull them apart. He punched the pit bull and told him to let my dog go. I began to punch the dog as well and once I hit the pit between his legs he let my dog go," she said.

Murphy then says the owner of Poncho came over to her and said, "I don't know what happened. He's a rescue dog and I've never seen him react that way before."

Murphy says Poncho's owner insisted the dog wasn't hurt and a trip to the veterinarian wasn't necessary. But Murphy wasn't convinced.

"In bloody clothes I flagged down a police car and told them what happened and that I would like to file a complaint/police report of the incident," she said.

"I began to cry and the officers agreed to go to the park and get the owner's information for me. They went to the park but the owners and their vicious dogs had already left the park," she continued.

Murphy described the owner of the pit bull as a white male, 5'7'', between 165-170lbs. Poncho was a brown pit bull mix with a fancy brown collar/halter.

Since discovering the dog park, Murphy says, she tries to visit as often as possible and claims to have met some friendly dogs and nice people there.

"We felt comfortable about going into the park that day. The dogs didn't seem aggressive," she explained.

The dog park is owned by the city, but run by Allied Rockaway Foundation for Animal Recreation and Fitness (ARF-ARF), which is a communitybased dog-ownership group with an interest in maintaining the Freeway Dog Park. At the same time, they try to educate the public regarding responsible dog ownership and dog park etiquette.

"ARF-ARF reached out to me and told me if there was anything they could do to help, to just let them know," Murphy said.

A spokesperson for ARF-ARF said the organization is extremely saddened by what happened to Zales and wishes him a speedy recovery.

"Dog parks are a wonderful way for friendly, dogs to exercise and socialize," the spokesperson said. "However, dog parks can potentially be a dangerous place, and all dog owners must be aware of the temperament of their dogs. Dogs with a history of aggression should never be brought into the park."

After several unsuccessful attempts at locating the owner who attacked her puppy, Murphy was notified by ARFARF that the owner had been found.

"Through one of our members who witnessed the aftermath of the incident, we were able to confirm the dog in question and passed that information along to her," the ARF-ARF spokesperson said. "We've also supplied her with the Small Claims Court Guide for Dog Owners."

Murphy says she intends to follow through on that small claims civil suit against the owner of the dog.

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