CROWN HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN â A small dog was killed when an off-the-leash dog came bounding out of Brower Park to attack them, and now his owner plans to fight for sweeping park policy changes.
Robyn Berland was walking with Ralphie near Park Place and Kingston Avenue on Aug. 29 at about 10:30 p.m. when a dog came running out of the park and lunged at the small dog in her arms, according to Berland and police.
“I will never be able to forget the clenched jaws and blood, and the killer’s cold eyes as Ralphie was crushed in my arms,” Berland told Patch in an email. “Nor the dress of blood I washed off in the shower.”
Berland’s screams alerted the dog’s owner, who came running after her dog but did not know how to stop the attack, so Berland told the woman to use the wheelbarrow technique, which calls for upsetting the dog’s balance by lifting up his back legs.
The woman did as directed, but then startled Berland by putting her dog back on the leash and wandering off.
“She walked away, irrespective of the fact that my dress was saturated with blood,” Berland said. “And that my beloved dog was virtually lifeless.”
A helpful stranger drove Berland and Ralphie to a local emergency veterinary clinic where he was pronounced dead on arrival, she said.
“Ralphie, was my friend,” Berland said. “His soft paw on my cheek woke me up every morning and his late night barks signaled when it was time for us to go to sleep.”
“I hope that Ralphie’s brutal death will not be in vain.”
Berland â a member of Friends of Brower Park, the nonprofit that partners with the Parks Department to manage the park â has since launched a grassroots effort and online petition to gather support for changes she says must be immediately made.
Berland is asking the Parks Department to reconsider the off-the-leash policy since, she reports, dog owners remain unclear on the rules and dogs frequently run out of the park and into nearby streets.
Berland noted that another dog ran up behind Ralphie one January morning at about 11 a.m. â when city records show dogs are not permitted to be off the leash in the park â and caused what enough harm to cost Berland about $16,000 for subsequent medical treatment, she said.
She’s also calling on the NYPD to monitor dog more strictly and for adoption centers to provide better training to potential owners.
“My neighbors, who live on the blocks adjacent to Brower Park, are horrified by the attacks on Ralphie and worry about their own safety and the safety of their children,” Berland said.
“They are in agreement that the off-leash dog situation in Brower Park has become extremely dangerous and out of control.”
This story will be updated when the Parks Department responds to Patch’s request for comment.
Photo courtesy of Robyn Berland