pitbull news

Guilty unless proven innocent

A Staten Island man whose Chihuahua was killed by a pit bull named Caesar earlier this year is pleading for a Manhattan judge to allow the condemned dog to be put to sleep before it attacks again.

Eugene Charles, 77, who is fighting efforts by Caesar’s owners to save the dog from being euthanized, details in new court papers the viciousness of the May 17 mauling of his little dog, Charlie.

“I was walking my Chihuahua on North Railroad Avenue . . . near my home, when a brown pit bull dog . . . ran toward me and aggressively lunged at my Chihuahua,” Charles recounts in an affidavit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday.

“The pit bull grabbed my Chihuahua by the side with its mouth and dragged it along the sidewalk, refusing to let go,” he adds.

“I was also dragged along the sidewalk . . . In the process, the pit bull bit my arms and hands. My Chihuahua died on the sidewalk.”

Caesar is now being held at a city shelter, and his owners, Kristina and Douglas Panattieri, have filed a lawsuit to save him from being euthanized for the attack.

But Charles, whose home in the Grant City neighborhood is near the Panattieris’, says he dreads ever having to see the pit bull again.

“I am very afraid of the pit bull . . . he will escape their home again if it was to be returned to them, and attack me or other people or animals in our neighborhood, including children from the school located one block away,” he says.

A hearing on Caesar’s fate is scheduled for Aug. 15. The Panattieris argue that Charles instigated the attack because Charlie was not on a leash. Charles denies the claim.

Records show Caesar had previously gotten out of his yard and mauled a Maltese dog.

The Panattieris’ attorney, Richard Bruce Rosenthal, said Thursday that Caesar should be released from city custody because he is suffering from respiratory disease and pneumonia.

He blames the city for Caesar’s condition and says his clients are considering filing a federal lawsuit claiming the pit bull has been “tortured.”

City lawyer Robert Martin III ­argues in a recent filing that Caesar’s case does not belong in state court but rather should be heard before an administrative law judge.

But Rosenthal has argued that the city’s administrative courts, which advise the city Health Department on which dogs should be put down, are governed by a “guilty unless proven innocent” standard.

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