MAMARONECK — Village residents are banding together to have a pit bull that attacked and killed a woman’s dog last week and bit off part of the woman’s finger removed from the neighborhood.
As residents circulate a petition seeking the dog’s removal, village officials are considering whether they ought to adopt legislation that would specifically address pit bulls, dogs with a reputation — fairly or not — for being violent.
“It’s a health, safety and welfare question, especially regarding the kids,” Mayor Norman Rosenblum said.
The matter has been added to the agenda of the village board’s Tuesday meeting.
Josephine Catalfamo, 75, was walking her 11-pound French breed dog, Ane, two doors down from her home on Florence Street the morning of Sept. 26 when the pit bull jumped a neighbor’s fence and went after her dog, said Natalie Catalfamo, her daughter.
It was in trying to separate the dogs that Josephine Catalfamo lost part of her finger. The attack occurred just a short walk from the Daniel Warren Elementary School.
More than 50 people have signed the petition, Natalie Catalfamo said.
“They feel it could have been much worse. Small children could have been involved,” she said. “I agree with them.”
Freddie Murgida, who lives next door to Josephine Catalfamo, said he signed the petition out of concern the dog might attack any of the many children who walk through the neighborhood to and from the school and nearby Florence Park.
“I am afraid of the dog,” he said. “When I was small, I got bitten. I won’t go near a dog. Small dog, yes, but not a big one.”
Natalie Catalfamo said the 1-year-old coton du tulear died in her arms on the way to the Miller-Clark Animal Hospital in Mamaroneck.
“My mother is pretty much traumatized and in constant pain,” she said. “She’s suffering from nightmares and can’t sleep.”
There was no barking or growling when the pit bull grabbed Ane by the midsection, Catalfamo said. The owner chased down his dog, but it was too late, she said.
he pit bull belongs to Dave Rigano, whose home on Jensen Avenue, a block from Florence Street, is partially surrounded by a chest-high chain-link fence.
No one appeared to be home Wednesday afternoon, and no dog barked when a reporter knocked on the door.
Rigano was charged with one count of a dangerous dog attack on a domestic animal, a violation, after the incident.
Ruth Britt, who has lived on Jensen Street for 50 years and has known Rigano and his family for decades, said she’s never had a problem with the dog.
“He sits in the window. If he sees a dog go by, he barks,” Britt said. “He’s a big dog, so he’s got a big bark.”
She said when Rigano lets the dog into the yard, he usually accompanies it. When he walks it, usually in the evening, Britt said, he uses a heavy leash.
“He’s a very strong dog,” she said.
The mayor said around 25 people have written or approached him about the attack. Many more have voiced their opinions on local websites, he said.
“They’re concerned about walking their pets — and their kids, of course,” he said. “You don’t get a chance in these attacks.”
Rosenblum said the village’s attorney is exploring the legality of a law that would target a specific breed of dog.
In 1998, Larchmont enacted a law banning pit bulls from the village. Residents who owned pit bulls before the law were allowed to keep them but must comply with a series of restrictions.