Dog-on-Dog Attack at Pet Store

Reader Melissa Curry tells us that, last Wednesday, she took her nine pound Pomeranian, Munchie, to Clark (photo) on leash. While in the store, Munchie was attacked by a forty pound pit bull-rat terrier mix named Pandora, and sustained deep puncture wounds, two of which required extensive stitching. According to Ms. Curry, Munchie did nothing to provoke the attack and Pandora, who was off-leash, gave no warning. Pandora belongs to pet adoption and rescue agency A Tail at a Time and, at the time of the attack, was under charge of the agency’s co-founder, Kathleen Goward. Ms. Goward later apologized for the attack, and A Tail has agreed to pay Munchie’s vet bills. Ms. Goward also said Pandora had not previously attacked another dog. Ms. Curry was concerned that Pandora was still being shown on the Petfinder website as adoptable, but a check today shows she is not on A Tail’s page on that site any more, nor is she on the list of adoptables on A Tail’s own website. A Tail seems oriented toward cats, showing 22 adoptable felines and only two dogs, both female pit bull mixes.

Your correspondent visited Clark Pet this afternoon and asked the employee present if he knew anything about this incident. He said he did not.

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  • Melissa Curry

    Mike, Clark Pet’s owner, was present during the attack, as was the store staffer who helped fend Pandora off my dog. When I returned to the store afterward to ask about the group and possibly call on either of them as a witness, both Mike and the staffer asked after my dog, said they were sorry, and said not to worry because A Tail at a Time were “good people.”

    Pandora is still up on Petfinder:

  • cat

    It is amazing to me that the rescue worker would have the dog off leash. And why doesn’t Clark Pet have a rule against off-leash dogs in their store? Wake up call.

  • Arch Stanton

    Hey, if you name your dog “Munchie” don’t you think your kind of asking for trouble?

  • GHB

    Is Munchie OK?

  • Sheela

    There are still two female pit bulls on the site. Did they rename Pandora “Jen?” If that is not Pandora renamed, they likely traded with another rescue.

    This experience warrants some honest business reviews for both the pet store and the rescue.

  • Melissa Curry

    Cat — Having dogs off-leash in a public space in New York City (unless in a dog run or park that has designated off-leash hours, in which case dogs can only be off-leash during those hours) is a violation of New York City’s Leash Law.

    GHB — Munchie has been discharged, but will need close monitoring and follow-up visits to remove sutures and to check possible complications from tissue dying beneath his bruises. If the tissue becomes necrotic, he may need further surgery. Thank you for asking.

    Sheela — Jen is a different dog, I believe. Pandora’s listing has now been pulled from Petfinder, but the rescue group has yet to respond to our various e-mails as to Pandora’s fate.

  • Eloise Arkin

    I love Clark Pet and the two guys that own it. They are genuinely friendly and helpful. I have seen this rescue group in the store and actively support their cause. They are helping homeless animals. I am sure they are very responsible especially since they are paying the vet bills. Unfortunate accidents happen. I hope Munchie’s recovery is speedy.

    Lets not do things that hurt local businesses. Lets just encourage better practices.

  • AEB

    Although its price is right, I find it very difficult to buy cat food at the store.

    The cat food is kept on the shelf nearest to the back room in which dogs are held for grooming. Dogs in residence are invariably crying and/or barking, which makes transferring the food, which I buy in bulk, a painful to endure.

  • mw

    Reading about this attack, regardless of the excuse it never happened before( is a rescue..what about “before” it became in the possession of the rescue group)is but another incident of why dogs should be on leash!!
    It is baffling WHY any dog would off leash in a pet store. Why is it always the owner/handler of the bigger dog ALWAYS gives the excuse it never happened before at the expense of the smaller dog, its health, its owner’s having to deal with the ramnifications of afterwards.
    Does merely paying for the vet bills remedy what has happened?
    Hope this store posts CLEARLY on its door DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH!!!

  • Sofia

    How much should an owner of Pandora pay for Munchie ?

  • Linda

    I am a dog lover too but what if it was a toddler that had been attacked in the pet store. No one can say for sure if or when a dog might become aggressive. For that reason alone the dog should have been on a leash. I agree that “unfortunate accidents” happen but this one could have been avoided.

  • nelson

    Clark Pet owners are really great guys. I buy all supplies there for my dog and have her groomed there as well. Never had a problem, but a pit bull is a breed i don’t trust and would never own. Never should have been off the leash, period.

  • Eddy de Lectron

    Melissa, The store is not a “public space” so the leash law does not apply. However, if the store does not have a on leash policy then they might be liable for Munchies injuries as it is negligent to not have and enforce such a policy.

  • Eloise Arkin

    According to the New York State bite laws the owner of the dog is responsible for the medical bills only and nothing else in the instance of a first bite by the dog.

    I spoke with the guys at Clark Pet and they said that Pandora had been boarded at the store and that she was being shown to a potential foster home. They had checked the store to make sure that it was empty of people and dogs. Ms. Curry must have come in unnoticed while they were interacting with the dog and was in one of the aisles of the store.

    They said that Pandora is not a Pit Bull but a Rat Terrier. Pandora has been very friendly to all people No one but Ms. Curry saw the initial interaction between the dogs and she said that Munchie barked at Pandora.

    On a side note lets not bad mouth Pitt Bulls. Traditionally they had been bred as family dogs because they are so friendly. They are the worst guard dogs in the world because they are friendly to people.

    Online research indicates that “Most Pomeranians are bred and offered for sale by people who don’t have the slightest idea of how to breed good-tempered dogs. Obedience instructors and behavioral consultants see LOTS of Pomeranians with neurotic behaviors, including biting, sharpness, extreme fearfulness, moodiness, and general nastiness.” “Although for the most part they do get along with other household pets, but because of their willful nature if they don’t feel that they are king of the house they may turn on bigger dogs. They always want to be top dog so to speak.”

    This may not apply to Munchie at all, but rather than speculating we need to look at the facts.

  • Fiona

    @mw: This notion that “it’s always the big dog,” is just a fallacy. Any dog that is properly socialized from puppyhood will get along with most dogs. I find that an inordinate number of dog incidents are precipitated by smaller dogs (dogs that have been pampered and spoiled and frequently carried by their owners) that are poorly socialized and snap at other dogs, especially larger dogs, by whose size they are threatened. The bigger dog then responds, usually with a predictable outcome.

  • Margaret


    Online research describes instances of bad behavior about most breeds including the toy breeds. If you are so careful not to bad mouth Pitt Bulls, why then would you do the same to another breed?

    I have had Pomeranians for years, two or three at a time and none of what you say applied. Some were rescues, some not.

    The fact remains in this case that the Pom was on leash and the large dog was not. If Munchie barked, then the owners would have known that Melissa and Munchie were on the premises, and should have immediately secured their foster prospect,


    If the place of business is not considered public space then they can have all dogs off leash in there, and I myself, even without a dog, would never enter this place. Actually, if I saw this dog in there unleashed, I would not enter with a very large dog.

    But this said, any business that I visit that allows dogs at all, including my Vet, require that the pet be leashed and under the owner’s control.

  • Margaret


    I have a much larger dog than this rat terrier Pitt mix, and it would not have had the same response to a small barking 9 pound dog on leash as this “properly socialized from puppyhood” Pitt mix. And I don’t accept that this is a predictable outcome. In fact, it is not an acceptable response anywhere.

  • Eloise Arkin

    The facts: the owner of the Pomeranian was concealed in an aisle and her dog barked (as claimed by the owner, we don’t know about that), when Pandora rounded the corner and they saw each other.

    Yes, any dog if not properly trained can give negative response. Pandora is a rescued animal, so no one is claiming that she was properly trained from puppyhood. Almost all dogs who are rescued receive no training whatsoever before they are abandoned.

  • Fiona

    Margaret –

    Saying that it’s “not an acceptable response anywhere” is pie in the sky. Dogs communicate with one another. A poorly socialized dog who has not learned the dog language and fails to respect territory and space will eventually run into trouble with a more dominant dog. I’ve seen it dozens of times at Hillside. A small dog pesters a bigger dog and the bigger dog gestures to get away. The smaller dog persists. The bigger dog gestures again, then again. The small dog persists and then it’s lights out. Too bad, so sad. I didn’t witness this incident. What I’m expressly taking issue with is the comment that it’s “always the big dog” who causes the problem. That is wrong. Just as your comment that “it’s not acceptable anywhere” is an anthropomorphic fantasy.

  • someone

    When I walk my dog, I always avoid the little critters as they are just simply annoying. If they go after a bigger dog, barking and growling what happens? The owner starts handing out treats for the dog and ultimately rewards bad behavior and starts sweet talking to the dog: “Honey, no, this big dog isnt doing anything to you, you poor little thing”. Seen it many times. What really needs to happen is to kick the owner for not disciplining the little pest.

  • Margaret


    I don’t think that anyone said that it is always the big dog – just your reference to this notion. I think that the offense here is that Pandora should have been leashed in the establishment. In this case the pom could not possibly have barked more than once, if at all before the attack, because the owners did not know that there was anyone in the store. Had they heard a loud commotion and barking, then they would certainly have secured the free dog immediately. I myself have always felt safe entering a pet shop with my small dogs or the big one. Now, not so much!

    Maybe it would be an anthropomorphic fantasy or pie in the sky, were the dogs running free in open space. But we are living in close proximity in a city and our dogs are unavoidably living a bit differently than that. In my opinion, we have to train them not to act only by instinct, if in fact it is instinct to attack if bothered by a small dog or child or whatever.

    As for Hillside, there are, at times, large dogs that are quite aggressive even with other large or larger dogs. I have not experienced the behavior you describe of small dogs there or the behavior that is described in the comment above by “Someone”. I sense on the part of a few, a distinct dislike for small dogs, but I feel that size is not the issue. However it is somewhat disturbing to read such a cavalier statement “lights out. Too bad. So sad. Perhaps size is the issue!

    Yes, I see that we have completely different views on dogs, but I think that most of us here could agree that Pandora should have been on leash in the pet shop.

  • Melissa Curry

    I am trying to avoid responding to those people who leave nasty remarks then hide behind their aliases, as it gives them a sense of empowerment they do not deserve. But I would just like to point out one thing, because I feel that the issues are being muddled rather than clarified by all this debate. Neither breed nor size nor temperament nor training are at issue here. What is at issue is that a dog was left unleashed in a pet store, and then attacked another dog. It should not have happened. The attacking dog is not to blame; the people who should have been responsible for her are. She should have been leashed.

  • Hicks St Guy

    @Eloise, regarding your first post. you use the term “accident”.
    one dog attacked another, you call that an “accident”?
    too many of these inane pet shops in the neighborhood, makes for a very drab and uninteresting retail experience, for sure.

  • pitiful

    Sorry, anyone who has experience with pit bulls and is not a total tool knows they are likely to be dog-aggressive given their genetic lineage. No anecdotes and pictures of your pit bull with a cat on its head will change this statement about the breed. The AKC, many pit bull groups, the UKC, and most objective breed descriptions recognize this, so why won’t the “rescue angels” and “fur mommies”?

    People who vehemently defend these dogs or choose to have them usually revel themselves as irrational.

  • Eloise Arkin

    Ignorance in this world is a tragedy.

  • Mike

    Anyone else think it’s weird that Clark doesn’t actually has a website?