Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pit Bull Attacks a 74-Year-Old Woman Causing Serious Injuries

By Plamena Pesheva, Yorktown Patch

Judge Salvatore A. Lagonia held a special proceeding in court today to determine what to do with a pit bull that bit a 74-year-old woman causing severe injuries.
"Dog cases of this nature are not common in this court," he said.
He said this is public safety issue, and he needs to determine what's best for the public.
On Thursday, June 24, at 7:12 p.m. police received a call that a pit bull had bitten a woman on Williams Drive in Shrub Oak who was visiting the residency of Mary Ellen Lynch-Gonzalez, whose family has been through a lot of stress in the past two weeks. On June 10, their daughter Elizabeth Lynch-Gonzalez committed suicide by jumping off the Tappan Zee Bridge.
"It was her dog," the girl's mother Mary Ellen said through tears.
Animal control officer James Waterhouse, who responded to the call, testified in court that the victim, Vincenza (Vinny) Pecorino, who lives across the street from the Lynch-Gonzalez family, went to visit them. As she and Mary Ellen were talking out on the steps, the dog came running through the door biting the woman's face, ear, and most of her body.
After police conducted interviews and gathered all facts and met with the victim's son John Pecorino, he filled out an application pleading the dog as "dangerous." A seizure was ordered and the 8-year-old, chocolate brown, 71-pound pit bull named "Smokey" was taken into an animal shelter, SPCA of Westchester County in Briarcliff Manor, where he is held in isolation until further notice.
"It was a terrible brutal attack," John Pecorino said. "I saw my mother trenched in blood."
He described her injuries as her ear being half bitten off, her skin falling off one side of her face, skin on her elbow ripped off to the bone, deep marks on her head, bitten foot, and wound marks on her arms. Pecorino was rushed to the hospital where she stayed for three days and had 200 stitches on her face, he said.
His mother, who called him the day of the accident asking for his help, was not in court today because she was at the plastic surgeon, John Pecorino said.
"My mother has been reliving the incident over and over again," he said of his mother's psychological state of mind.
Mary Ellen Lynch-Gonzalez said the dog has never hurt anybody.
"I'm terribly sorry about what happened," she said.
The dog could sense their emotional stress and was trying to protect the family and the house, Marry Ellen said, when he attacked the woman. Just like the family, the dog has been through a lot during the past two weeks, she said.
She said she has known Vincenza Pecorino for 22 years who was like a second grandmother to her children.
When the woman came to visit the family that day, Mary Ellen told her to go back to her house where she would meet her. Mary Ellen knew of Vincenza's fear of the dog and has assured her in the past there would be nothing to worry about.
But Vinny "insisted" she stayed, Mary Ellen said. So she put the dog in the bathroom and thinking she had secured the door, she left the front door open. Then, the dog came out running and attacked the woman.
"She beat him with a broom," said Mary Ellen, suggesting that might have aggravated the dog even more.
Pit bulls have a reputation of being aggressive dogs, but Mary Ellen said their dog was never trained to be aggressive, and often interacted with children, adults, and other dogs. She brought into court 13 letters of people in support of not destroying the dog.
Judge Lagonia said based on the facts he thinks the dog is dangerous, but he will issue a formal opinion on what will happen to the dog, by the end of the week. Meanwhile the dog, Smokey, remains in the animal shelter.

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