The corner where the incident occurred. Image via Google Streetview.
A little girl who was giving money to a homeless woman on 79th Street and Broadway was bitten in the face by the woman’s pit bull, according to a police detective and a witness.
The incident occurred around 3:40 p.m. on the southwest corner of the block. The girl and her mother were walking by the woman when the mother gave the girl a dollar to give to the woman, police said. As she handed the woman the dollar, the dog leaped up and bit the girl in the face. The dog “slammed her to the sidewalk” and both the mother and the homeless woman leaped up to try to pull the dog off, said T. Nardini, a longtime Upper West Side resident who witnessed the attack while he was walking his dogs on the block. Another man in a “marine jacket” jumped in to pull the dog off the girl, and was finally able to pull the dog off, Nardini said.
“The little girl was bleeding profusely from her face,” he said. “My prayers go out to the little girl, who has paid such an unnecessary price in this horrific event.”
Police put the girl and her mother into the squad car and took them to the hospital, Nardini said. The dog was taken to an Animal Care center, police said.
The woman is being interviewed at the 20th precinct. Nardini said he has seen the woman on the corner for years, and has often been concerned about whether the woman has the dog under control.
Police say they expect to have more information on the incident later.
Correction: We initially misidentified the possible dog owner, but removed the reference 15 minutes after this story was posted.
Anyone who has walked by that intersection knows who the woman and the dog are – they are constantly sitting there. To their credit, unlike the guy standing in the median a few feet away, they never seem to be bothering anyone. But the fact that someone can practically set up residence sitting on a busy corner is really disturbing.
More importantly, best wishes to the young girl for her recovery from this incredibly traumatic experience. She and her mother were trying to do a good deed and she will be scarred for life, if not physically, then mentally.
ugh that guy on the meridian is a real nut. This is one of the rare times where I’ll agree with people who post on this site.
This is the homeless woman who sits on the corner sidewalk with her dog who looks like a large white pit bull. As I got off the crosstown 79st bus I heard many screams, crossing the street a man was pinning the dog down with something around his mouth. The mother of the child was screaming hysterically holding the child with a bloody cloth. The scene was horrifying, many crying. I see this woman and her dog everyday there, last week I passed and saw her reading a book with one hand and stroking the dog with the other like in your living room, I do not think the dog was leashed, I thought how sad for both of them. The police later took both of them away and the child in an ambulance.
The child was taken in the back of one of the 2nd/3rd responding SUVs.
This woman has two pit bulls. She’s connected to a man who often sits on a different corner with the second dog. I’ve seen them walking together many times. If one of their dogs is aggressive, chances are their other dog is too.
It’s totally ridiculous to jump to that conclusion. Dogs have individual personalities, and I doubt you’ve ever even met either of the dogs.
I agree, and I highly doubt that anything will be done about the other dog, or this woman who owned the dog, or the man screaming in the intersection. I don’t know the dog owners, but is that the same man who is a ‘friendly guy’ and always compliant when the police tell him to toss out his beer, and he sometimes goes into a trance? I’m so disturbed and disgusted by the homeless situation and the endless comments about it and how nothing ever changes. And now to think that a 7 year old girl is suffering for it. I can’t even begin to fathom the horror she and her mother are experiencing right now.
It’s horrible what happened to this child, but this is not a problem with the breed. People need to stop shaming pit bulls!
The homeless situation on the UWS is out of control. I don’t feel comfortable walking on the many streets anymore, even during daylight hours. Money jars should not be in front of any dog. Dogs instinctually protect their owners.
Prayers to the child for a speedy physical and emotional recovery.
This is absolutely a problem with the breed and irresponsible owners who suggest that the breed isn’t a problem. dogsbite.org keeps data on every dog bite resulting in death and pit bulls are responsible for over 67% of all human deaths from dog attacks. animals24-7.org tracks dog-on-other animal attacks and once again, pit bulls are the major offenders by a huge margin.
A. I’m not sure pit bulls or any other dog feel shame so let’s stop anthropomorphizing animals.
B. Denver and other municipalities ban pit bulls because, yes, there is a problem with the breed.
C. My spouse was bit without warning from behind by an off the leash pit bull in Central Park. She was walking alone sipping coffee and was chomped from behind.
D. The owner of the dog in the article clearly is not able to provide for its welfare. The dog should be put in a no kill shelter and put up for adoption.
And all the while this was happening the crazy man who lives on the medium was singing screaming crazily!
I know exactly who this woman and dog are. I saw them all the time. I hope the little girl will be ok and her face heals nicely. So sad.
Horrible story. Poor child.
I see aggressive dogs who are not controlled by their walkers and/or owners everyday. They approach people who are just walking or trying to cross the street. Leashes are too long so the dogs zig zag and take over the sidewalks and it’s scarier by the day.
This homeless couple has pit bulls? How is that even remotely okay? Hope the child recovers both physically and mentally and that parents don’t trust dogs to be “friendly’ no matter what their owners say. They are animals.
Pit bull attacks on children are all too common. The dogs also tend to attack people in the face. A gripping action is also characteristic. These dogs are bred for dog fighting. Dogsbite.org and NationalPitBullVictimAwareness.org have much information on this terrible public health problem.
This is an ignorant comment. “Pit bulls” are not a breed, and dogs that are labeled “pit bulls” are unfairly demonized.
I’m not sure the “UWSMom” who’s sitting in Mt. Sinai while her 7-year-old daughter undergoes extensive cosmetic facial surgery would agree.
Is this the woman who is often sitting on the East side of Broadway, a white woman with a sign saying something like “please care”?
I don’t think so – that one was the one who threw a brick at the elderly woman about 2 months ago and was in the news. I haven’t seen her.
So sad. I do wonder when elected officials realize quality of life is important for people or if people finally vote them out for a different group
This is New York. We will vote for the Democratic Party no matter how bad they are for us. Repeat after me: there is no party but the Democratic Party.
…Except that this incident has nothing to do with politics, Ben, because homelessness is complicated and there’s no panacea for it, not even a Republican king of the world.
Everyone keeps saying homelessness is a “complicated problem”. Is that actually true? over 65% of the people have mental illness or drug dependency, and we know how to treat that. We additionally need to make shelters safer and cleaner and provide affordable housing. Right now our public officials are doing nothing about it other than spend money and are unable to account for it and just allow people to live on the street. So what part of it is complicated?
Spending on homelessness in New York City has more than doubled to $3.2 billion from fiscal year 2014 to 2019, according to a report released Wednesday by Comptroller Scott Stringer. For supposedly 70,000 people. That is $42,857 per each homeless person. Has the problem become better or worse in the last 5 years? Does that sound reasonable and well used money to you? That is money spent every year, not total!!!!!!
What I meant in saying homelessness is complicated is that the causes are many and are typically interconnected. I work full-time with homeless people. Many are dealing with substance abuse and/or mental illlness, but not all. ALMOST ALL are dealing with one of more of the following: lack of education/basic literacy & math skills (which prevents them from getting jobs), social/interpersonal skills impairment (which also prevents them from getting jobs), nonviolent criminal histories (which as of 2015’s Ban The Box/Fair Chance Act is supposed to not prevent them from getting jobs, but still does since employers disregard the law), or complete lack of family support for their entire lives. The latter means that my clients just don’t know how to conduct themselves in the workplace, & need lots of training and support to get and keep a job. When you don’t work in the field, it can seem like the causes of homelessness are only addiction, mental illness or laziness…but I guarantee you, the causes uniformly stem from lack of education and support, which translates to lack of employability. Yes, even at a minimum wage job.
The solution seems simple—and I agree with you about all the excesses and mishandling that are going on at a policy level. What’s important to remember is that even the best-run, safest shelter or treatment program or transitional housing will not singlehandedly cure the problem. Not all drug addicts want to recover or are ready to recover. Not all people with mental illness are willing to accept treatment. And treatment, whether for drugs, alcohol or mental illness, typically takes MANY tries before it works. Afterward, long-term maintenance care is still necessary.
I’m all in favor of cleaning up our streets. As of today, people have the legal right to refuse treatment. That leaves our hands more than a little tied. Until or unless something big changes, I’d ask that everyone consider what’s right in front of us: if you can’t get work, you can’t pay rent. We must do a better job of asking ourselves about the many reasons why some people can’t get work, and then we must implement programs to help the homeless get work-ready.
You do realize that Rudy and Bloomberg were both Republicans, right??
Oh I forgot….facts? who cares about facts anymore?
That said, DeBlasio is a nightmare. I think most of us can agree on that.
It may interest you to know that NYC had a Republican Mayor in 20 of the last 26 years; that NYS had a Republican Governor in approx. 40 of the last 77 years; and that the NYS Senate was led by the Republican party for almost the entire last 80 years.
I knew these 2 as well as I see them everyday. They don’t bother anyone. I pet that dog every single morning, including this morning & he is a sweet dog. However I NEVER approach the dog nor the girl without asking the owner first. Having not been there, I cannot attest to what happened today. It’s terrible this poor little girl had to go through this, mother as well. Of note ( possibly ) this dog only did what it should do – protect its owner. It’s possible the girl was giving $ and it was very close to owner or dog. The same thing would have happened if it was a Yorkie, so it’s not the breed. This issue is that the owner should not keep a $ jar / cup so close to the dog. And obviously the homeless issue up here is a complete mess. Now this poor child will be scarred physically & emotionally & mother as well. I don’t know what happens to owner, but this dog may be put down when it was only doing what he should be, protect it’s owner. So sad all around. BTW – I’m not defending the owner here by any means but you cannot put your hand close to a dog that does not know you, breed irrelevant
Agree with everything you said. Sad situation all around. 🙁
Actually, it sounds EXACTLY as if you are blaming the child. She was being compassionate and giving the woman a dollar and this happens. This wasn’t a case of the girl running up to pet a dog without permission. I feel utterly sick for this family.
These are very dangerous dogs even under stable circumstances.
Prayers for this poor little girl.
Dogs should not be part of the homeless “lifestyle.” Dogs need shelter, reliable food and water and vet care. This is actually animal abuse.
You can find this same woman sitting always at the corner of 47st and 8ave where the Duane Reade is or shes under the New York Sightseeing house. I have noticed that shes connected to a man. They have a brown and a white pitbull. If I’m not mistaken shes a young white woman with dreadlocks. The dog is never leashed she is just holding the dog by the collar.
I really hope this little girl is okay. I sometimes give money to street people with dogs, but you need to be careful–if they’re sitting and you’re leaning down, you don’t want to end up accidentally looming over the dog (or the dog’s person) in a way the dog might read as threatening. Please note that I’m NOT BLAMING either the girl or her parent, just suggesting a way to reduce the odds of this happening to you.
(Also, it doesn’t matter what the breed is. For Pete’s sake.)
If I was honest about how I felt about affluent people who look at the long-term homeless and see them only as a “quality of life” problem for THEMSELVES, WSR probably couldn’t approve the comment.
Sarah, do you think only “affluent” people suffer from the declining quality of life on the Upper West Side? You should ask around before making inane statements like that.
It’s so incredibly sad for everyone involved. The little girl, the homeless woman, the mother, the dog… Just tragic.
So now we’re feeling sadness for a bitten child and a biting dog equally. When did the world become so crazy.
I was there a few minutes after the incident. I’ve seen this dog in the neighborhood for quite some time and he is normally as sweet and docile as a lamb. Unfortunately for him, his arrogant owner who is “homeless,” has the dog sitting beside her every day for hours on end while she panhandles. ANY dog, especially a pitbull who is the most sensitive of all breeds, could develop a personality disorder and aggression if neglected in this way. This dog receives no mental stimulation, no engagement, no attention, and no exercise. He is forced to sit on the ground in silence all day, every day, while his owner smokes her cigarettes, reads her books, and sticks out her hand for money. The woman will most likely get a slap on the wrist, but if the dog hasn’t already been put down, he most likely will be. Sadly, the dog is also a victim in this scenario, just as are that poor little girl and her family. 😕💔
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It’s an incredibly unfortunate event, made worse by individuals commenting with their preconceived notions about the pit bull breed. For instance, there is no physiological difference between the bite strength of pit bulls compared to the average dog, nor is there a locking mechanism in their jaw to stop them from opening it.
My intention isn’t to trivialize the poor young girl’s experience but to help de stigmatize the pit bull breed. Shelters are already laden with these wonderful animals largely because of their sad, troubled history.
Yes, agree with Katie. Great comment. Thank you.
This is by far the most sensible comment I’ve seen here.
I’ve seen the owners sit in the strong sun for hours with the dog — something as a dog owner, I would never do with my own dog. I do feel like he is a prop for them to bring in more change. At the same time, if they didn’t take care of that dog, where would it be? Hard to say.
This is with regard to your posting about the child bitten by the homeless woman’s Pitbull on 79th Street. I work closely with the homeless and their animals and met this woman many months ago. I paid to have her dog neutered AND vaccinated against Rabies. I am aware this dog will be euthanized but would love to spare him the torture of unneeded time at CACC as his life has been filled mostly with sadness and fear already-
I can get the vaccine information to you if you can help me get it to CACC so the animal need not be kept alive just to test him for the disease.
Leila Nelson O’Sullivan
917 796 0797
My prayers to the innocent child recovering from yesterday’s tragic event on west 79th street. I have lived in the neighborhood for many years and have observed a woman for the past few years begging with her dog, a un-neutered male pit bull. Sometimes, when I walk by, her dog growls at my dog and I call to her “do you have control of your dog”? Annoyed, the lady shrieks back “yes I do”. Most times now I avoid walking that way. Yesterday I “walked that way” and at 3:40 pm in in front of Chase Bank I witnessed a most tragic event as a child was bitten in the head and mauled and slammed to the ground as the pit bull would not release his jaws. The pit bull did have a leash on him but it was not held or could not be held. The child’s mother jumped in immediately to the rescue as did the women with the pit bull and chaos continued as they tried to stop the dog attack. A good Samaritan, immediately, jumped in to assist and help separate the pit bull’s jaws from the child’s head. From my vantage point approaching the scene within 15-20 feet the Samaritan’s effort was the turning point and finally the dog released. The mother cradled her child. The police swarmed as the mother of the child raged and tried to attack the women who was begging on the street. Police intervened and quickly wrapped the child’s head and with the mother jumped into their police vehicle and sped away to the emergency hospital. All were in shock and stunned. The good Samaritan stood next to me and I thanked him for what he did. He turned and said he was going to the hospital to see how the child and mother were doing. I have seen this Samaritan Gentleman in the neighborhood for many years, he lives somewhere near by. He is an American / African American and often wears a leather jacket with a Marine Corp patch on the back and sometimes a Viet Nam veterans cap. Facing this dangerous chaos in a flash, courageously, he jumped in. I hope to see him soon in the neighborhood to thank him again and learn his name…..Sadly, the police have their hands tied by our laws and how the laws are interpreted and applied… Sadly our City and State governments, our mayor and powers that be are unable to help the citizens of our City…. Sadly the Pit Bull probably will be put down…Sadly the women begging with the dog needs help that clearly she is not receiving (given unknown factors possibly of homelessness, mental issues, addiction (?)…Sadly the mother…”the poor mother”…carries this tragic event and it’s consequences forward…Most sad of all is the well being physically and mentally of the innocent child…… MY PRAYERS FOR HER RECOVERY…………A INNOCENT CHILD, WAS BEING TAUGHT TO BE” KIND” BY HER PARENT BY GIVING MONEY TO THE NEEDY, THIS “SACRIFICIAL LAMB”, HAS BEEN VICTIMIZED BY THE INEPT GOVERNMENT POLICIES THAT ALLOW THE HOUSING OF HOMELESS, DANGEROUS PEOPLE AND THEIR ACTIVITIES IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS AND STREETS. THE POLICE SAY TO ME “WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING, “OUR HANDS ARE TIED”. SO NOW SOMETHING MOST TRAGIC, MOST UNCIVILIZED, MOST VIOLENT HAS OCCURRED a VICIOUS ATTACK TO INNOCENT CHILD…..”MY HANDS ARE NOT TIED” I SAW THE CHILDS BLOOD AND MY VOICE WILL NOT BE SILENCED.
Do you mean that your voice will not be silenced in this forum, or that you have an idea for a solution for this problem?
Thank you, Lynn. Sanctimony is sad.
T you should run for city council! you have my vote
Interesting comments on this one. I think people should understand this incident is actually the reason street homeless have pit bulls and not golden retrievers. They have this breed BECAUSE they will attack and defend/protect the owner. The harsh reality is that people should not approach or give money to street homeless. You don’t know what their mental issues are or how they will respond. You don’t know if they are carrying weapons. You don’t know if they have TB, Hep A,etc. Giving them money which will be used on vodka or crack is a bad idea. A better idea is to give socks/underwear/goods to a reputable organization which can distribute these items to the street homeless in NYC. Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Chelsea or the Bowery Mission or the Coalition for the Homeless are some examples of groups one can donate goods to that will be given to the homeless. I am not blaming the victim. I am not blaming the dog owner who should be arrested and face years in state prison. The bigger issue is getting these people off the street. NYC spends 3 billion a year and is a right to shelter city. Shelters should be improved and these folks need to be removed from the sidewalks.
So sad for all concerned. Wishing the child a speedy recovery, both physically and emotionally!! I hope we can be informed on how she is healing.
Horrific circumstances for everyone, including the homeless women and her dog.
The homeless man living in front of Victoria Secrets for at least 5 years is now in the worst condition I have ever seen him in. He looks like an animal living in the wild. He is harmless to people, will not accept money, food or help from anyone. I have tried all. Last year during a bad snow storm the police told him “if you stay here you are going to die tonight” . He stayed. Last month I overheard two policemen with him. and a social worker told the police” “he is OK, we know him, you can leave him alone”’. I live next building, my heart breaks, but now the smell is very bad, he barely can walk, and children must see this everyday, I wonder how this affects them.
I don’t understand this situation either. Last week there were two younger homeless men in his spot in front of VC and he was laying on the opposite side of the sidewalk next to a food vendor. People just continued to line up while he was laying there and it was business as usual. I tried to ask the vendor how long he’d been there and he told me to buy something or move along.
Why is there an entire network of people in the neighborhood who JUMP at the chance to help out every time a dog is lost or found, yet it’s ‘ok’ to leave a human being ‘living’ like this? I just heard on the news that the police are adding 300 new youth coordination officers to the street because of the increase in crime. Why can’t we do something like this for the homeless? And please don’t tell me that he wants to live this way!
The day before the little girl got so horrifically attackEd, I walked past the homeless woman and her pitbull on 79th and remarked to my friend, “something makes me want to stay far away from this dog.“ Call it an instinct or maybe my memory of a pitbull who had attacked me on 71st St. and West End Avenue a number of years ago.
In Europe, where I’m from, pit bulls are banned in several countries. For a reason.
But of course there are other breeds as well that could’ve attacked, they consider the spot they’re sitting on day after day their turf and would protect their owner. So horrific! I can’t even begin to fathom what the little girl and her mother are going through, what a traumatizing event. And I don’t think this dog should be given up for adoption like someone suggested.
Great comment Marianne. Ignorant people who plead that pits are “misunderstood” or the “most sensitive” of all breeds need to look at the data and numbers. Pits were bred to be vicious and they carry that genetic disposition whether bleeding-hearts like it or not. Homelessness may be tolerated but pits that live on the streets need to be banned.
This story is a tragedy from start to finish. The girl is physically injured and surely emotionally transitioned as is likely her mother. The dog may or may not have a future, whatever its past might have been which seems unlikely to have been great. And this poor woman has been living on the sidewalk for who knows how long.
Does anyone know the source of the “right to refuse treatment” that gets referenced here often? It’s time that gets revisited – and not for the “quality of life” of the rest of us, but for those individuals suffering from mental illness and/or addiction. There’s nothing compassionate or progressive about leaving people to rot on the streets. We don’t allow an impaired loved one who is incapable of self-care to “decide” to live on the streets. For their sake it’s time we start intervening to help.
Btw, that was “traumatized” not transitioned. Thx autocorrect.
A sidewalk artist should paint the scene in that spot. A scene depicting the event, the heroic act by the “man in jacket”, the little girl, the mother, the homeless woman, the police, and the community outpouring for the little girl and her mother. I would choose a medium that would permeate the sidewalk, so as not to fade quickly, as this event will not fade quickly for the the little girl, her mother or “the man in the jacket”. A visually descriptive scene, which draws passerby’s to stop and look, consider what happened, and reflect. Are we fed up yet? Or, is this the future of our communities and streets in the community?
Has there been any update on this? Condition of the child? Fate of the dog and dog owner?
I was present when this happened and was the person (presumably one of many) who called 911, though NYPD was on the scene and removed child before I even finished giving dispatcher details.
Dog appeared sweet, and child was remarking on how cute it was. The light changed and I was walking away as mother gave her daughter money; was struck by how nice it was she was teaching her child empathy.
This event was a terrible event that did not need to happen for so many reasons.
I feel terrible for the little girl and her mom. Just a horrible thing to have happened during a learning exercise.
Please do not demonize the dog. There is no Pit bull breed. the “pit bull” class of dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and English Bull Terriers. I have owned an Amstaff and a pit mix and both were loving, well trained dogs. Any dog can react to someone coming at them while they and their owner are sitting on a sidewalk in a vulnerable position. Blame the owner here, not the dog. Clearly the owner could not manage her pet. The dog is forced to sit on a cold sidewalk for hours at a time. This is animal abuse.
Ok. Let’s all just agree that homelessness and dog behavior are both unpredictable and difficult to manage. Good? Good. We can agree on something and move forward. For information on yes, the complexity of homelessness please scroll up and read from “Stay On Topic”. As far as dog behavior, I’m not an expert in that but I am a veterinarian (there are boarded specialists in animal behavior with even more education and debt than I have…). I can tell you that the documented most aggressive breed is… wait for it… the Chihuahua. They. Are. Awful. (In general. There are always exceptions, so Chihuahua owners don’t get all upset). We call them “land sharks”. But, they can only do so much damage. Also, the ‘grab and lock’ hold described above is not unique to any breed. That’s what canines do. By comparison, when cats bite they will chomp you a shocking number of times before you can blink an eye. A ‘simple’ bite on your hand can leave you with dozens of punctures inoculated with horrible bacteria that can put you in the hospital quickly with sepsis. Dogs, on the other hand, DO bite and grip and often shake. Their bites are high pressure and crushing. A ‘simple’ bite on your hand can break your bones. This (finally) brings me to pitt bulls – correctly identified above as not a specific breed but a variety of breeds and combinations. These dogs are generally giant balls of super strong muscle covered with fur. Add to that a dog’s general high desire to please their owners. These dogs, for whatever reason, also have that desire multiplied by about 1000. Put these 2 traits together and you have a dream situation for a human who wishes to exploit them. And this I cannot express strongly enough: These dogs are NOT bred for fighting. They are bred for MONEY. Money people make on dog fighting by exploiting their innate traits of strength and loyalty then disposing of them. Money people THINK they will make selling puppies they breed because they’ve heard they can make money, although they don’t understand that’s not where the money is made. They end up with a bunch of unsellable dogs and dispose of them. THIS is why so many pittie breeds end up in shelters. Not because they are bad dogs, but because people are cruel, stupid and greedy. I have cats and I lovelovelove them. But I dream of the day that my work schedule and lifestyle allow me to open my heart and home to a dog. When that happens I’m going straight to the CACC to have my pick from their mostly abandoned pittie breed collection and I’m going to take home the one with the biggest block head, the biggest smile, the goofyist personality and the sloppiest kisses. And there will still be too many to choose from.
Just FYI, my spokesperson from the 20th precinct insists that the homeless stay on the UWS because people here give them money and engage with them. Be safe …that poor little girl. Don’t do it…just dont. Also, he said DeBlasio doesn’t allow them to be disturbed…that seems impossible.
Any update on the little girl’s condition?
Does anyone know what happened to the woman and dog? Today Monday, someone saw a woman with a nose ring sitting on a corner with a grayish pit bull on a blanket, she was smoking a cigarette on 23rd St. and 6th Ave. Hopefully it was not her.
The Good Samaritan Gentleman, that was wearing a leather jacket with the Marine Patch who jumped into the dangerous fray last Thursday pulling the pit bull from the child face is a long time resident on the upper west side. I had a conversation with him and again thanked him. Viet Nam Vet ‘”Sam” Samuel Murray