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Bone to pick: This Basset hound targeted for death in neighbors’ dispute

The sweet survivor: Gerritsen Beach resident Frank Battaglia said his neighbor tried to kill his pooch Snoopy last year — and even with video evidence, the distraught dog owner said the police still haven’t arrested the neighborhood’s vicious villain.
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A Hatfield-and-McCoy–style fight between two feuding Gerritsen Beach neighbors over a long-standing debt nearly turned deadly for a local pooch when a combatant allegedly tried to choke the beloved basset hound to death with a sharpened bone.

The suspected bassassination attempt occurred a few months back when, after years of being locked in an embittered battle with neighbors Donna Nicoletti and her dad Donald, Frank Battaglia claims the dad deliberately kicked the bone under the fence in brazen move that could have put the pup six feet under. And even if his neighbor had a bone to pick with him, he should have left his dog Snoopy alone.

“He tried to murder an animal,” Battaglia said.

Battaglia provided us with the smoking gun: a Zapruder-style surveillance film that clearly shows Donald carefully kicking something under the fence and into the yard before moving back and to the left.

That something, claims Battaglia, was the weaponized bone.

“Snoopy takes the bone, starts biting on it like a dog would do, then he starts choking. He’s trying to run but he was tripping over — he was dying,” Battaglia said as he choked back tears.

Battaglia quickly cleared his dog’s airway and then rushed Snoopy to the vet, who Battaglia says was stunned by what he found.

“The vet said it was made intentionally to kill him.”

Battaglia said that he showed his film to the authorities, who allegedly assured him that Nicoletti’s father would be brought to justice.

“I called the police, the police came, they looked, and they said, ‘this guy has got to be arrested,’ ” he said.

But nothing ever came of it.

A spokeswoman for the 61st Precinct said the report was duly forwarded to detectives for a full investigation. However, a spokeswoman for the detective squad said the case was never passed on to them.

“It was closed by patrol — it was never opened to detective squad,” said the detective squad spokeswoman.

The feud between the neighbors began years ago when Battaglia said he loaned Donna Nicoletti $1,000 and she never paid him back. The neighbors even appeared on the daytime courtroom reality show, “The People’s Court,” according to Battaglia, who said he lost the case when his neighbor said he tried to make a move on her.

“She told the judge I was trying to get into her pants,” he said.

Donna Nicoletti declined to comment for this article, and Donald could not be reached.

Last week, Battaglia was back in court with Nicoletti — real small claims court, this time — seeking $450 for the veterinarian bills and additions to his fence he made to keep his dog safe. But he said his fight is more about the principle than the money. The case was pushed back until to November.

Battaglia said he doesn’t know how anyone could injure an animal, especially one as sweet as Snoopy, whom he says he loves like his own child and who has since been resting comfortably, as basset hounds are wont to do.

“How could you not love a little kisser like that?” he said.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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