What to Know
- The MTA and NYPD are looking into a video showing a pit bull chomping on a woman's shoe as passengers yell at the owner to get it to let go
- It happened on the no. 4 train on April 20, during a fight over a subway seat
- The dog owner hopped off at Wall Street, and the victim appeared to be OK, witnesses say, but everyone was shaken
An argument over a subway seat escalated into a fistfight, and ended with a pit bull chomping down on a woman's shoe as a car full of passengers tried to help.
It was around 4 p.m. on the no. 4 train last Friday when the chaos broke out. Tahsyi King says he and his girlfriend Denise Leon watched as a confrontation quickly escalated.
"It just happened so fast," said King, who recorded the whole thing.
It started when the owner had his pit bull take a seat on the train. The dog bumped a young woman who was already seated.
"She was like, 'Can you move your dog?'" said King.
It is illegal to bring a non-service dog onto the train without a proper carrying case.
Leon said the woman touched the dog, "and the man is like, 'Don't touch my dog. So he puts him back on the chair."
The dispute heated up and turned physical: "She does it again, does it again. This is three times," said Leon. "The third time, he leans, punches her right on her face. She seen it coming because she hit him back."
That's when the dog started grabbing at the young woman's shoe, biting it. The woman eventually took the sneaker off, and the crowd of straphangers are heard in the video shouting at the owner to stop the dog: "Get the dog off of her!" people scream.
"She tried to kick it, so thank God it was her sneaker it caught on to," said Leon.
The dog's owner simply pulls at the dog as he bites: "As he's pulling he's not telling the dog to let go, he's just pulling the dog."
One of the other subway riders is heard yelling at the owner, "You're not telling the dog to release!"
Leon said, "Everyone was trying to get him to let go, everyone."
When the pit bull finally released, the woman "took her shoe off, and [the dog's owner] threw it at her, and you can see all the other men are like, 'Really?'"
The dog owner promptly jumped off at Wall Street, leaving behind an angry crowd of New Yorkers. Leon and King say they're proud of how everyone came together to help.
"Because sometimes we don't stick up but that was a moment where everyone stuck up for her," said Leon.
Witnesses say the passenger who was bitten appeared to be OK.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota encouraged passengers Wednesday to report people on the subway violating the law, like bringing a non-service pet onto the train without a carrying case.
"Bringing a pit bull on board any of our subway system is a violation of the law and the person who does that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he said.
Lhota urged riders to press the blue button at the subway help point and call authorities if they see an animal illegally on board a train.
Subway riders agreed.
"I don't want to get confrontational with people because people do like their animals and I respect that, but they don't belong in public transportation system like this," said commuter Paul Michaels.
"People who actually have disabilities, that's one thing. But to take a dog or pit bull of any kind of animal, it just doesn't make sense to me," he said.
Police say they're looking for the owner of the pit bull. At the very least, the owner faces a $25 summons for bringing an animal in the train without a carry case. It's unclear if he will also face assault charges.