What to Know
- Police say they've arrested the owner of the pit bull seen attacking a woman on the subway in a video that's gone viral
- The scuffle happened on the no. 4 train on April 20, during a fight over a subway seat
- Sources say the dog owner told police the pit bull is his service animal; the dog is now in the care of family members
The owner of the pit bull seen in a viral video chomping down on a woman's shoe on a subway car full of passengers has been arrested, police say.
Ruben Roncallo of Brooklyn was arrested on charges of assault and reckless endangerment in the April 20 subway scuffle, police sources say.
Ahead of his scheduled arraignment Thursday night, Roncallo defended himself to reporters, saying the pit bull was a service dog and that the woman attacked first.
Witnesses told News 4 the man had been arguing with another woman on the no. 4 train over a subway seat: he reportedly had his pit bull take a seat on the train, and the dog bumped a young woman who was already seated.
The woman and the dog owner got into an argument, and it turned physical, witnesses said. The woman prodded the dog several times, and the owner leaned over and punched her in the face, according to witnesses.
The woman hit him back, apparently prompting the pit bull to start grabbing at her shoe. Video shows chaos breaking out on the train as passengers frantically try to get the dog to release the woman's shoe: "Get the dog off of her!," they're heard yelling at the owner.
When the pit bull finally released, the woman took her shoe off, and the dog's owner picked it up and threw it at her, video shows. He then got off the train at Wall Street, according to witnesses. The woman who was attacked appeared to be OK.
Roncallo on Thursday, when asked why he didn't hold the dog back as it latched onto the woman, said, "She attacked me first, she attacked me first."
"He is a service dog," he said of the pit bull, which is now in the care of family members, according to sources.
The pit bull wasn't seen wearing a vest indicating it's a service animal. In New York, there aren't many restrictions to be qualified as one: a dog needs to be trained to work or perform tasks for a person with a disability, including psychiatric. The city does not issue dog tags, just licenses. And dogs are allowed into any business open to the public, even in transportation stations, as long they are contained, according to the MTA.
While the pit bull was on a leash, his owner is nevertheless facing charges of assault and reckless endangerment.