A boy was violently attacked and mauled by a therapy dog inside a New York apartment in what’s been described as a “terrifying” incident. Now, the words of the pet owner are serving as an unintentional but ominous warning to others.
Eleven-year-old Joshua Rivera and his twin brother had only been living with their aunt for a few months after their mother died of cancer when tragedy struck again. This time, Joshua was the victim, and his brother, Julian, witnessed the frightening ordeal. His aunt, Johanna Lopez-Ramos, wasn’t unscathed in the terrifying incident either, having also suffered an injury as well as a tragic loss.
It all began on a Tuesday afternoon while Johanna was in the bathroom and her nephews were inside her downtown Manhattan apartment with her therapy dog, named Aries. According to the NY Post, the American Bully pit bull mix launched at Joshua around 2:50 p.m., viciously mauling the boy. His twin brother, who witnessed the attack, quickly ran away as Joshua’s screams alerted his aunt to the horrific scene.
“I just heard my nephew screaming and I came running out of the bathroom and I just had to react quickly to separate them,” Johanna recalled, noting that she was bitten on her hand during the struggle. Unfortunately, Johanna wasn’t fast enough to save Joshua from Aries, whose bite left significant wounds to the boy’s face, eye, head, and arm.
It took two people to pull the dog off of the boy, ABC7 reported, before Joshua could be transported to Bellevue Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition but had to be rushed right into surgery for the serious injuries he sustained. As for Aries, the dog was removed from the apartment by authorities after NYPD officers spent a whopping three hours to tranquilize the animal, a report by PIX11 said.
With Aries having attacked Joshua and having also bitten Johanna when she tried to stop him, the dog owner said she was left with no choice but to euthanize her beloved pet, which of course upset her. “I feel a little distraught to be honest because he’s my dog who supports me emotionally,” Johanna admitted.
Although Johanna said she didn’t know why the dog snapped, she speculated that her nephews, who are on the spectrum and have ADHD, were “overwhelming” the dog before the attack. “So I guess their strength was too much for the dog,” she told reporters outside her apartment. “I’m assuming that that must have been what happened.”
However, there was something else Johanna also inadvertently admitted that should serve as a warning to others. “It’s terrifying because I’ve never seen such a thing,” Johanna said, referring to Aries’ behavior that day. “I see it on the news all the time with other kids and other people, but I’ve never seen it in my face,” she added, sharing a sentiment we often hear when otherwise “friendly” pit bulls maul a loved one.
Johanna Lopez-Ramos said she thought Aries was gentle until she heard her nephew’s screams. In fact, according to the aunt, her American Bully pit bull mix never displayed violence — until that moment. And, when he did, he not only mauled an 11-year-old boy, he literally also bit the hand that fed him. All of this from a “pup” that was dubbed a “therapy dog for mental health.”
After hours of surgery, it was reported that Joshua Rivera would survive, but the injuries were severe as was the emotional trauma that both he, his twin brother, and even his aunt endured. Sadly, this is far from a first. In fact, just like Johanna admitted, we all too often see stories about pit bull attacks on the news, in which victims of such attacks are left disfigured or even dead in unprovoked attacks.
However, support for the “bully breeds” continues with many advocates claiming that it’s not the dog but rather the owner who is the problem. Regardless, it always seems like an innocent person is the one who falls victim when ownership of a pit bull goes terribly wrong, and that’s worth keeping in mind when you pick your next family pet.