A state assemblyman fed up with stray pit bulls "terrorizing" two Brooklyn neighborhoods is calling for cops to shoot down the belligerent animals, an extreme measure in a city that racks up thousands of complaints about dog bites each year.
"The police should respond and shoot these freekin' [sic] dogs on sight," Assemb. Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park) said in a statement Wednesday, after fielding several complaints since last May of pit-bull attacks.
He told amNewYork that the dogs, described as pit bulls, have been roaming the streets of Midwood and Borough Park, and the city has been unsuccessful in catching them. A health department spokeswoman said they've responded to six calls in the area since last April, but none of the wild dogs were found.
One resident had to put her dog to sleep before the holidays after it was left comatose by an attack, according to the Brooklyn Daily.
"If you have a dangerous situation and [a dog] just bit someone, and there's blood on the floor, the police have to deal with it," Hikind said. "I know people might get upset with this, but I don't have a problem with someone shooting the gun."
The NYPD said deadly force is only used as a last resort when an animal appears "too dangerous to control" or poses an imminent physical threat to a human.
According to Hikind's office, the pit bulls have chased neighborhood children and attacked people and other animals. The problem, he said, is by the time Animal Care & Control responds, the dogs have vanished.
Paulette Azar, of Midwood, said her small, mixed-breed dog, Chloe, was mauled from behind last May by one of the strays. "I think they should be caught and killed," she said after recounting the incident.
New York City residents reported more than 3,000 dog bites from January to October 2011, with pit bulls and pit-bull mixes making up more than a quarter of the complaints, according to the health department.
The number of 311 complaints of unleashed dogs doubled in the past five years, and packs of stray dogs have been reported elsewhere, including pit bulls stalking Citi Field last summer.
But PETA said that police need to be trained properly when it comes to animals.
"When you talk about shooting, you're putting everyone at risk, especially in a residential area," said spokesman Martin Mersereau.
Some New Yorkers agreed that shooting dogs seems too extreme.
"As a human being, to shoot a dog, it's inhumane," said Derrick Glover, 46, of Harlem. "That's not how New Yorkers do it."
Jana Demetral, of Inwood, called people's fear of pit bulls "pretty hyped-up."
"If no one is being attacked, I don't think force should be used," said Demetral, 37.
(With Marc Beja and Rachel Hawatmeh)