A male pit bull mix rescued from a New York City shelter by a Long Island family attacked the teenage daughter when he was brought home, biting into her face, throat and elbow, and was later euthanized, according to a published report.
Stephen Neira, 40, of Patchogue, told Newsday he found the 2-year-old pit bull, named Alex, on a website to rescue dogs from "death row" and had 22 minutes to save it before Alex was scheduled to be euthanized at the Animal Care Centers of New York City.
He, his wife and their three children picked up the dog Sunday at the city's Harlem shelter, where Alex passed behavioral tests and was deemed "sociable," according to Newsday.
When the family brought Alex home, Neira took him out for a walk and let him run laps in the backyard to tire him out, then opened the door to the kitchen, Neira told Newsday.
"He ran inside, slid across the floor, turned around, saw my daughter and jumped for her throat," Neira said.
Neira said he grabbed the pit bull from behind and put it in a choke hold, taking the battle into the backyard.
"I had to get it off my daughter," he said. "I had to end it."
Neira said he thought his tight grip rendered the dog unconscious and flung him a few feet away in the backyard, but the dog attacked again. A neighbor who heard the screams rushed over and held the back gate open for Neira, who ran out to escape the dog.
Neira's 16-year-old daughter, Briana, was taken to Stony Brook Hospital where she had plastic surgery on her mauled lip, he said.
Alex was tranquilized by Suffolk police and taken by the Brookhaven animal shelter. The dog's remains will be tested for rabies, a Suffolk County health spokeswoman told Newsday.
Just before he was tranquilized, he was rolling in the grass and responding when called -- as if the attack never happened, Neira said.
"It was supposed to be a beautiful, beautiful day," Neira told Newsday. "Instead my wife can't stop crying. We were giving the dog a new life."
In a statement, Animal Care Centers of NYC said the dog was behavior tested using the methodology it uses with all animals to determine suitability for placement in different environments.
"Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict how animals react to every stimuli they may encounter," the statement said. "We are deeply saddened by this incident and our thoughts remain with the Neira family.”