Owner and dog saved by officer

Levi, Brianna Sposato’s Nova Scotia retriever is recovering well, she said. Facebook photo

ALEXANDRIA BAY — It was about noon on a recent Friday when two pit bulls charged at a woman and her dog while they were on a walk near Alexandria Central School.

There were no witnesses as the pair of pit bulls began attacking, refusing to stop and likely on their way to killing the woman’s dog and at least injuring her, but then an officer came on the scene.

Students were in class when two gunshots were fired in the street outside on Sept. 25. Josh David, the officer in charge of village police, later said the officer did everything he could to avoid firing his weapon, but there was no choice, resulting in a tragedy and life-saving effort at the same time. No students were outside and it appears no one inside heard the shots. Mr. David called the district superintendent to brief him on the incident. The school would later issue a message to parents about the gunfire on Facebook, which was taken down shortly after it was posted.

Mr. David said it was about 11:42 a.m. when a village police officer was dispatched to a complaint of loose dogs that were acting aggressively in the Gordon Court elderly community off Bolton Avenue. The officer responded and found two pit bull-mix dogs the size of Labrador retrievers, without collars or tags on, running across Alexandria Central School property. That was a chief concern for the officer. They had prior incidents of these same dogs running loose in the village, and now they were running away from the playground area.

“Obviously,” Mr. David said, “there was a concern that if they were to return back there and there were kids out there playing, possibly the kids would have been attacked.”

The officer first tried calling the village dog control officer, who wasn’t available, so he called Jefferson County Dog Control. A county dog control officer told the officer where the two pit bulls live on Walton Street, so the officers went there and knocked on the door.

The owners weren’t home, Mr. David said, so the officer called dog control back, who were able to contact the owners.

The officer then returned to Gordon Court, where the dogs were last seen, and they weren’t there. The officer began patrolling in his vehicle for the dogs, driving down Bolton Avenue when he saw them again running toward the hockey arena across the street from the school. He tried his horn to scare them away from the area, but then they saw a dog.

The two pit bulls noticed Brianna Sposato walking her Nova Scotia retriever, Levi, down Bolton Avenue. That’s when the two pit bulls began attacking the retriever.

Mr. David said the officer got out of his car, ran toward the attack and began trying to pull the dogs apart. That wasn’t working so he struck the pit bulls a couple times. He tried those tactics, but knew they weren’t working.

Even when he shot the first pit bull, the other didn’t react and continued attacking the retriever, forcing him to fire a second shot. Both pit bulls were shot once, Mr. David said, and were dead at the scene.

“It was the last resort,” he said. “He (responding officer) tried other tactics. Those did not work, so he had no other choice than to draw his firearm and shoot them.”

The retriever, Levi, suffered several puncture wounds and a laceration to its leg. He said the dog would have to do at least one follow-up appointment with a vet for possible ligament damage.

It’s still a deeply upsetting and sensitive matter for Ms. Sposato, but she said it could have been much worse if the officer wasn’t there.

“I appreciate everything (the) officer did for me and my dog,” she said in a text message. “... if he wasn’t there, my dog would probably be dead and I myself injured at least.”

She said Levi is recovering well.

“Still going through some ups and downs,” she said, “but overall still going strong.”

Mr. David said the pit bulls were fixated on Ms. Sposato’s dogs during the attack, avoiding her completely for the time being. He also confirmed no students were outside to see what happened, and no other witnesses have come forward. The owners have been notified, and while they were devastated, Mr. David said they understood what happened and why the end result was what it was.

“For any of us that would have to do that, even for a normal citizen put in that situation, it’s a tragedy,” he said. “Nobody wants to do it, but when you’re left with no other choice, you have to do what you have to do.”

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(9) comments

suzanne phillips

I respect everyone’s right to their own opinion. But as someone who has been very involved in dog rescue on a daily basis for 20 years and have a large number of friends who also work rescuing dogs, cats and work in shelters, I consider myself more knowledgeable about the bad rap “bully breds, in general” have acquired than many who just read dog bite stats without realizing there are other factors and backgrounds about incident involved. I don’t want to generate a back and forth debate about…who’s right and who’s wrong..so this will be my last comment about Levi’s dreadful experience. Yes, pit bulls top or are near the top of many “breed dog bite” statistics. This should not be surprising when you think about how many more bully breed dogs there are than some of the other breeds further down the list. I don’t know how many pit bulls there are in Alexandria Bay, but, in Rochester, where I live, when you see people walking their dogs, you will see a larger number of pits than any other dog or mixed dog breed. So with a larger number of dogs, there are apt to be a larger number of bites recorded for that breed. And nowhere on most of those lists do you see breeds such as Presa Canarios. Some of you may remember hearing about this beyond horrible incident several years ago. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Diane_Whipple Presas are not a breed for everyone…many people would not want to spend the money that most dogs of this breed cost…but, like all breeds, one needs to consider genes these dogs inherited from their ancestors that were created especially to perform a certain task. These dogs were not created to be sweet little frou frou dogs, but to guard cattle (as in kill any predators) and later used in dog fighting. So any responsible person who owned a Presa would do all he could to play down instincts that were naturally inherited by that breed, unlike the owner of the two Presas who probably acquired them to be something other than loving family dogs. For anyone “really interested” in learning more “facts” about bully breeds, https://thesmartcanine.com/what-pitbulls-bred-for/ has some good info. Please note these dogs were used for bull baiting back in the 1800’s in England, and SADLY cruel and sadistic people have used some of this breed’s initial potential to participate in dog fighting. Along with taking into consideration what canine attributes would best fit your and your family’s life style…people who prefer a lower energy life style should not adopt a Border Collie…you also need to reinforce the behavior you want. I have a bully breed Granddog and one of the things I told her family was not to engage in serious games of Tug because this can encourage feelings of aggression. Instead, surround her with firm, but loving leadership and socialization with many people and non-combative situations. And once again, I am sending healing physical and emotional wishes..and hugs..to Levi and his family.

Green Grace

Who pays the vet bills? I think the owner of the pitt bulls are responsible for that cost at the very least.

Eagle24

Absolutely...may have to sue them to get the money... thank God it wasn't a young kid.. about as irresponsible as it gets...

Jane Brigham

Tragic for everyone involved, I hope for a good recovery. Excellent reporting

MHM22

Pit Bulls need to be permanently banned from the US.

Eagle24

That breed is notorious for their aggressive behavior ... most homeowner insurance policies won't cover that breed... there are over 300 breeds of dogs and pit-bulls are in the top 5....add to this, they're running loose, AGAIN, in a school area, in an elderly care facility... a tragedy waiting to happen... Sue the owners for the vet bills.... a no brainer... Google pit-bull attacks ... "Aug 2020 - Belleville, IL - A 61-year old man is dead after being attacked by his stepson's two pit bulls. Stephen F. Pemberton Sr. was killed Wednesday afternoon"...and on, and on, and on..

Green Grace

I did Google pit bull dog attacks" and you are right. There were reports from 2 days ago, 3 days ago, etc and many of them............I even did searches for other breeds a too, and, for example, there was one awful one about a Doberman Pincher, but just one. Same with German Shepard. Perhaps these other dogs do not have a history of being used against human beings as the pit bull was when slave owners used them against enslaved people.

suzanne phillips

How very, very sad. This had to be a very frightening experience for Ms. Sposato and the officer who had no other choice. Thank goodness Levi is recovering. But, I also feel badly for the pit bulls. So many people have a bad impression of them. But..just for something for people to read and think about.. www.pitbulllovers.com/ten-facts-about-pit-bulls-every-one-should-know/ This is not to take away from the dreadful experience poor Levi and his Mom (and the officer) had, but what happen to them was not typical of pit bulls who have been brought up in a loving environment where the dogs do not learn to be aggressive and combative. Two dogs together can egg one another on..so that may have also been factored in. Bottom line...I just hope people can try to keep an open mind about the fact that it was two pit bulls who attacked poor, innocent Levi and know this behavior is not typical of all pit bulls. ...Get better very soon Dear Levi.

Eagle24

A fact you need to know suzanne... many insurance companies won't provide liability insurance if you own a pit bull... there's a reason for that... Who want to take the chance with an "open mind"...on an animal that kill and maim people every year... Your link says it all "pitbulllovers"... duh...what do you think they'd say.... geeze Sue...com on..

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