Biters bit as NY puts pit bulls in the doghouse

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The Independent Online
David Usborne New York

Rudy Giuliani, New York's crime-busting mayor, has evicted graffiti artists, chased away windscreen squeegee men and hobbled the Mafia clans. Now he faces perhaps his greatest challenge: man-eating pooches.

The dog days have arrived and we are talking politics, not heat indexes. More specifically, we are talking pit bulls and efforts by the mayor to tug the leash on them and anyone who owns one. That pit bulls have iron-clamp jaws and can display an appetite for human ankles is not news. In recent weeks, however, the breed has done itself no favours with a series of violent incidents across New York.

There was the case of Emmanuel Riviera, 14, who fell six storeys to his death from a rooftop after being chased by a man and his pit bull. Days earlier the Housing Authority, which runs public housing, reported the serious mauling of a young girl by a pit bull. And early this month Salvatore Biagini, 70, died of a heart attack trying to save his schnauzer, Teddy, after it was pounced on by a pit bull in the street.

Mr Biagini collapsed after being bitten on the leg as a passer-by tried to beat the dog into submission with a stick.

Mr Giuliani has promised to use a century-old statute, originally designed to protect the public from rabid sheep, to threaten to euthanise any pit bull within 48 hours that has not been licensed and vaccinated.

The Housing Authority has banned pit bulls and other "vicious and menacing animals" from all public housing. Tenants, many furious, are being forced to comply. A man identified only as Spanky told Newsday: "I want my dogs back. I love my dogs". His "children", said Spanky, are trained to "kiss and give me high five".

Paris -The city planning office has banned residents from keeping pit bulls and other attack dogs in public housing, AP reports. The Public Office for Planning and Construction told resident to get rid of their dangerous dogs, Liberation newspaper said. Residents of public high-rise apartment buildings for people with low incomes who fail to bid farewell to their aggressive pets face eviction, the paper said.

Pit bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans are among attack dogs popular in poor French housing projects where crime rates are high.