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Holbrook woman recalls 'terrifying' dog attack

Valerie DeMasi stands outside a neighbor's home, at

Valerie DeMasi stands outside a neighbor's home, at 28 Portside Dr. in Holbrook, where she was attacked by a pit bull Tuesday evening. (June 1, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Valerie DeMasi couldn't believe how quickly the dog was upon her, first biting at her right foot and then knocking her to the ground.

"It was unbelievably fast," said DeMasi, 44, of Holbrook, who was attacked by the dog Tuesday night as she went to pick up her 9-year-old daughter from a neighbor's home on Portside Drive.

The dog, believed to be a pit bull, ripped a gash in DeMasi's right foot that needed 15 stitches to close, and she also has bite marks -- four apiece -- on her left hip and left shoulder, she said Friday.

Animal control personnel from the Town of Islip have been looking for the dog, described as brown, white and gray, since the attack, but town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia said the search so far has come up empty.

"We've gone door to door and we've checked dog licenses," she said. "So far we've not been able to find the dog."

While animal control was canvassing the neighborhood again on Friday, DeMasi was getting her second series of rabies shots. She was treated at Stony Brook University Medical Center after the attack, and doctors advised that since the dog escaped she should consider the shots, DeMasi said.

She got six shots Wednesday before being released and will get two more shots over the next 14 days, she said.

DeMasi never had been bitten by an animal before and was horrified by the attack. "It was the most terrifying thing in my life," she said.

Homeowner Jules DeLeon, whose front door DeMasi was walking toward when the attack occurred, was able to pull the pit bull off her.

"I heard loud barking, screaming," he said. "Then I looked out the front window and saw Valerie on the ground with something on top of her."

DeLeon said he pulled the dog off DeMasi and then frantically waved a piece of four-by-four lumber at it, keeping the dog at bay.

It ran into one yard, and DeLeon gave chase. But it then ran back toward a prone DeMasi, with DeLeon cutting it off. When the dog ran into DeLeon's yard, he said he quickly picked up DeMasi, brought her indoors and made sure his front and back doors were locked.

DeLeon said after calling 911 he went outside but the dog was gone.

Both DeMasi and DeLeon said they believe the dog is named "Nick." DeMasi thought she heard a young man saying the name, as one might call for a missing dog, several times as she walked up the driveway, moments before the attack.

A neighbor who jogs at night said she remembers a young man calling for a dog named Nick as she ran through the neighborhood streets, DeLeon said.

DeMasi said she hasn't thought about whether to seek civil action if the dog is found or whether to file a complaint against the animal in town court.

"My first concern is to find this dog," she said. "My concern is the safety of this neighborhood, which is loaded with children."

DeMasi said children regularly play outdoors in the area, including on Portside Drive and her block, Musket Drive.

"I don't want another neighbor calling me up and telling me one of their kids was attacked," she said. "Right now, that's what I'm worried about."

A Suffolk County police spokeswoman said anyone with information on the dog can call Crime Stoppers, 800-220-8477. All calls will be kept confidential.

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