Puppy Left Dead After Gruesome Dog Attack in North Tonawanda

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

Debbie DeVirgillio watched in horror as an unleashed dog jumped through her screen door and killed her puppy Tucker.

“The dog came up my front porch and ripped my puppy out through the screen door, my grandkids ages 3 and 5 saw the whole thing,” said Devirgillio.

She lives at 398 Payne Avenue and is just one of many residents in North Tonawanda who have been terrorized by this dog.

Like many residents the DeVirgillio’s are now afraid to go outside, worried the dog could return.

This past week they brought their concern to the North DeVirgillio and her husband brought their concerns to Tuesday June 19th’s Common Council meeting where, while holding back tears, they begged city leaders to act.

“I think that something needs to be done,” she said.

“Two dogs attacked the neighbors dog a year ago. The police were there and nothing was done,” said her husband Jim.

In fact, Jim said that there has been numerous other reports of dogs from the home causing problem for residents.

“The dog got lose again and it attacked another neighbors dog, less than a week before it attacked and killed our dog,” said DeVirgillio.

Although the dog that killed DeVirgillio’s dog was an Ankita, the same owner also has a pit bull mix that has reportedly attacked multiple animals in the past.

One resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that the dogs are hardly seen. Often times not coming out of the house for days or weeks. The occasions when the dogs were seen usually ended with death or serious injury.

“We had been told numerous times that the dogs would be put down,” said DeVirgillio, “but nothing was ever done.”

It has put a terrible strain on our community.

“The citizens need to know that there is no one out there to help them,” she continued. “I was told to call the health department, then the health department tells us they area not involved with dogs but if I need rabies shots for me and my grandchildren, they can set that up.”

The DeVirgillio’s say they were told by police that they were going to designated this as a dangerous dog and that the owner would be allowed to keep it, so long as it a was kept isolated and in a cage. However, this did not last long as the dog was spotted one day later outside.

“My neighbor who lives behind me was chased by the dog into his car on the same night that our dog was killed. I do not understand the City cannot do something about a dog that is harassing the neighborhood, especially when it has been proven that it will attack another dog,” said Devirgillio.

One of the problems is that North Tonawanda does not have an animal control officer. Common Council members are promising to take action on this incident and prevent it from happening going forward.

“I do not know what we can do at this point,” said North Tonawanda Mayor Art Pappas. “I know the police are looking into it and the dog in question is supposed to be put down. I think we need to look into this because it may come up again with another family and another neighborhood, which is unnaceptable.”

In the meantime, the DeVirgillio’s are trying to move forward but admit the memories of the dog attack still haunt them.

“My grandkids are starting counseling now because I can not even leave my front door unlocked because they are afraid the dog is going to come through,” said DeVirgillio.

“I just began using the front door to get the mail because of this whole incident. I might be able to get a replacement of my screen, but I will never be able to replace my dog. I am not looking for a monetary gain, I just want the citizens of North Tonawanda that they are protected and can play with their kid on the front lawn.”

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