The off-leash hours at Fort Greene Park typically draw dozens of tail-wagging pups who play as their owners exchange niceties — but on Saturday, the park’s neighborly ambiance gave way to horror when one dog owner knifed a pooch seemingly out of nowhere, according to several eyewitnesses.
“I was telling a bunch of people, this is the craziest thing that happened,” said Clinton Hill resident Noah Harlan, who was walking his dog at the time of the attack. “It was a dog stabbing.”
Bandit, a 3-year-old Great Dane and Bernese Mountain Dog mix, was trotting around the park with his owner just before 9 am when they came across a couple and their medium-sized Basenji, according to Bandit’s owner, who asked to remain anonymous citing fear of reprisal.
The Basenji’s owners, who also frequent the park, had asked that Bandit stay away from their dog before. The two have snarled at each other, but they’ve never gotten violent, Bandit’s owner said.
“They’ve never harmed each other, but have growled and postured and gotten territorial,” said the Clinton Hill resident, who has walked Bandit in the park with his fiancé since his pup was twelve weeks old. “Bandit has never bitten or harmed a dog or human.”
Bandit’s owner motioned to the couple that he would restrain Bandit, he said. But as he approached Bandit, who was nearing the couple and their Basenji, the Basenji’s male owner allegedly took out an object and stuck it into Bandit’s side, according to Bandit’s owner and three other witnesses.
“There was no tussle between the dogs when he bent down and stabbed Bandit in the side.” Bandit’s owner said. “It was not in self defense at all. It was not provoked … That guy could have removed his dog and walked away.”
Bandit’s owner grabbed the arm of the man, who yelled, “I’m going fo f—ing kill your dog,” while blood spouted from a wound on the side of Bandit’s chest, two witnesses said.
“It was crazy,” said Rachel Poston, who was walking her black Labrador mix when the stabbing occurred. “I walked over, and [Bandit’s owner] had his hand over his chest, and there was a ton of blood coming out.”
Poston and other dog owners gathered around to help Bandit’s owner cover the wound by applying antiseptic wipes and making a tourniquet out of a plastic bag. Poston called her husband to drive Bandit to the animal hospital, and others called the police and flagged down Parks Department employees. Harlan, meanwhile, snapped photos of the couple as they quietly exited the park.
“It was actually kind of amazing,” Poston said. “Everyone was pretty freaked out, but it was amazing to see the dog community. Everyone came together and acted so fast.”
Bandit was transported to a pet hospital in Gowanus, where an X-ray revealed that the knife had not reached his chest cavity. The pooch was allowed to go home after seven hours, but problems with his health have persisted.
“We’ve been taking him to the vet every day because there’s a different incident with his body,” said his owner.
Harlan said that dog fights are common at the park, but that the stabber’s reaction was uncalled for.
“People are chill. They understand how dogs are, and sometimes they go at it,” said Harlan, who owns a Beagle. “It’s really a non-event. No one’s like, ‘Oh my god, my dog attacked your dog.'”
Harlan added that he heard that police have identified the Basenji’s female owner, but a police spokesperson said that no arrests have been made and the investigation remains ongoing. If convicted of animal cruelty, the Basenji owner could face a prison sentence of up to two years.
Bandit’s owner said he would be devastated if the attack made Bandit afraid of people and of the park they had previously called home.
“I would be most heartbroken about this if he has PTSD from this — if he distrusts humans or the park,” said the owner, who added that he’s never heard of an attack like this in all his years frequenting the greenspace. “That any dog owner would act like this to a dog is kind of unfathomable to all dog owners.”