Composite shows a dog undergoing surgery. Inset is a photo of the same dog and pit bull.
An Upper East Side dog owner is sounding the alarm after she says her dog was attacked and injured by a pit bull in a local park | Zaira Rojas

Dog Mauled by Pit Bull Inside UES Park, Owner Blames ‘Menace’ Neighbor


An Upper East Side woman says her beloved pup was badly injured by a pit bull inside a neighborhood park and blames irresponsible pet parenting and inattentiveness by another park goer for her dog’s pain, suffering, and thousands in veterinary bills, Upper East Site has learned. Now, she’s coming forward with a warning.

“It was absolutely horrible and terrifying,” Zaira Rojas, owner of 4-year-old Border Collie Barrett, told Upper East Site of the moment a pit bull, brought by a neighbor, attacked Barrett while the two were playing together inside Ruppert Park on Second Avenue between East 90th and 91st Streets, back on the morning of Saturday, February 24th.

A woman sits on a mountain with a black and white dog, trees are visible in the distance
Zaira Rojas and her beloved 4-year-old dog Barrett, who she says was injured when he was attacked by a pit bull last month | Zaira Rojas

“Truly, for a second, I thought, ‘He’s actually going to kill my dog. Barrett might actually die right now,'” Rojas, 28, said.

ALSO READ | Poodle Mauled Outside UES Kids’ Bookstore by Owner’s Vicious Dog, Victim Claims


Though Barrett and the pit bull had gotten into a scuffle earlier, her pup had already disengaged and moved on when, Rojas explained, the pit bull returned for more. Cornering her dog against a fence, she says the pit bull chomped into his left shoulder, locking his jaw on the Border Collie for more than two minutes as Rojas tried to separate them.

A pit bull and a Border Collie walk on the ground of a park, a fence is visible on the right
Rojas managed to snap a photo of the pitbull (left) in the moments after the attack on Barrett (right) | Zaira Rojas

“It was also scary because I didn’t know what to do, and seeing the pit bull be so unwilling to let go and seeing how strong he was, it was scary to where it’s like, ‘Okay, what can I do where the dog isn’t going to end up latching onto my hand?'” Rojas remembered.

The pit bull’s owner, a man she had seen previously in the park, came over to assist but, she said, seemed similarly unsure of how to get his dog to release its clenched jaw.

A dark green sign saying Ruppert Park affixed to a fence
Rojas said her dog was attacked at Ruppert Park on Second Avenue between East 90th and 91st Streets | Upper East Site

After covering the aggressive dog’s nose, Rojas watched the owner poke him in the stomach and try to pry his jaw open before a bystander poured water on the pit bull, finally ending the disturbing attack.


After trying to examine Barrett’s injuries through his thick fur and finding minimal blood, Rojas said she “turned back and the owner is nowhere to be seen. He just ran off with his dog.”


Though Barrett seemed fine after the attack and played for another hour, the Yorkville resident said a veterinarian’s appointment the following Monday found multiple bite wounds and an infected abscess that required surgery to implant a drain that remained for almost two weeks.

The injury caused no permanent damage, Rojas said, but the normally energetic pup is now confined to her apartment due to prescribed sedatives that render Barrett lethargic and depressed but also prevent him from ripping his stitches or over-exerting himself.

A gloved hand stitched a bloody wound in a dog's side
Veterinarians had to stitch Barrett’s wounds after implanting a drain to empty an infected abcess | Zaira Rojas

“He knows the way to the dog park, and so when we leave the apartment [for a bathroom break], he just refuses to turn any other way but towards the dog park,” Rojas said. Despite his injuries and weakened condition, all Barrett wants to do is run and play.

Costing over $3,000 so far, Barrett’s procedures, plus extra payments for medication, medical supplies, and treats to ease his discomfort, have put a significant strain on Rojas, a full-time law student.

A dog lies anesthetized on a table with an oxygen mask and visible stitches
Barrett’s procedures have cost Rojas more than $3,000, with more expenses expected | Zaira Rojas

“I’m at the point in my semester where I was supposed to have enough money to last until graduation, but now, how am I supposed to pay rent? I spent a month’s rent on vet bills, maybe more,” she explained, adding that she had to ask her mother to help with expenses and now questions her ability to afford to be a good dog owner.

“I think it’s deeply unfair that I’ve got to pay all of this, and somewhere, someone else who’s more responsible for what happened hasn’t felt even a little bit of a consequence of this financially,” Rojas fumed.

A dog lies on the floor, his midsections covered by a blue bandage
Though Barrett is not permanently injured, his recovery is expected to take time | Zaira Rojas

“I think that there needs to be something done about the fact that there is someone walking around in the neighborhood with a dog that is capable of doing real damage with an owner who doesn’t seem to care to do something about it,” she continued. “I think he’s an actual menace in the neighborhood.”

To identify the owner so she can recoup her losses in small claims court, she posted about the unnerving encounter on social media, catching the attention of local dog trainer Maya Haber.

“He’s going to get that dog seriously hurt,” Haber said of the pit bull owner’s evident unwillingness to manage his dog’s behavior. Given what she called the dog’s genetic predisposition to heightened energy and boisterousness, his owner should correct him at the first sign of trouble.

A tired dog lies on the floor
Though tired and depressed due to his medications, Rojas says Barrett still wants to play | Zaira Rojas

Having to intervene when the dog chased her own too aggressively, Haber said she eventually placed herself between the two and gave the pit bull treats to distract him. The owner, she added, was very upset by this.

ALSO READ | Dog ‘Murdered’ by UES Veterinary Office’s Shoddy Dental Work: Lawsuit

“The more your dog does something, the more your dog is going to continue doing something,” Haber explained. “So if he’s continuously letting his dog get to this level of arousal [and not correcting him], there are going to be more attacks.”

Many dogs and their owners play in a park
Rojas says Barrett was attacked in Ruppert Park, a popular destination for dogs and their owners in Yorkville | Upper East Site

Rojas agrees and urges fellow Upper East Side dog owners to be attentive to their pets’ behavior for their own protection: “It’s a lot easier to handle a situation before it scales into something as big as what happened to Barrett.”

If you’ve seen the pit bull and have any information about its owner, Rojas asks that you email her at [email protected]. She is also seeking financial support for Barrett’s medical expenses through a GoFundMe campaign.

Follow Upper East Site on InstagramX, Threads & Facebook

Suggest a Correction
Copyright 2024 Upper East Site. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast, or redistributed.

Composite shows a Powerball lottery slip. Inset is a photo of a deli with a green awning.

Lucky UES Deli Buzzing after $1 Million Powerball Ticket Sale

Photo shows a yellow Health Department closure notice on a door.

Health Department Shuts Down UES H&H Bagels Over Sanitary Violations