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Aug 2, 2016 12:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Neighbors Fear Pair Of Pit Bulls That Attacked Small Dog In Hampton Bays

Aug 3, 2016 8:43 AM

One of Joanne Caton’s favorite summer activities is taking her dog, Sparky, for a relaxing walk each morning near her house in Hampton Bays.

Most mornings, Ms. Caton and her 3-year-old shih tzu start their day with an hour-long walk near Rampasture Point, a small community overlooking Shinnecock Bay where she and her husband, John, have owned a summer home for more than three decades.

But their routine was broken on June 16, only a few days after the Catons returned from Arizona, where they also have a home. Ms. Caton and Sparky, who was on a leash, were injured in an attack by two American staffordshire terriers—a breed commonly referred to as a pit bull—while they were walking on Rampasture Avenue.

The unleashed dogs attacked Sparky from both sides, repeatedly biting the small, white dog on the torso and neck, injuries requiring 10 stitches to close and multiple surgeries on his neck. Sparky is unable to bark because of the damage to his trachea.

Ms. Caton, who is 74, said she tried in vain to chase off the dogs by screaming and hitting them with the red plastic handle on Sparky’s leash, but was knocked to the ground. She suffered a sprained ankle and bruises to both of her arms and legs; she was on crutches for a full week after the incident.

The attack, which occurred at around 6:30 a.m. that morning, only ended after an unknown man—whom Ms. Caton described only as a Good Samaritan—chased off the pit bulls.

“When you have two dogs attacking—it’s beyond imagination,” Ms. Caton said during a recent interview as she wiped a tear from her eye. “I still don’t walk my dog because I’m still afraid those dogs will get out.”

It turns out that the two bit bulls, named Bandit and Bramble, are owned by Dayna Corlito, who lives about a half mile away on Cedar Lane in Hampton Bays. Neighbors of Ms. Corlito also said this week that they were not surprised to learn about the attack on Sparky, explaining that, prior to the June incident, both dogs could often be spotted roaming the neighborhood.

Things had gotten so bad, several neighbors said this week, that some avoided going outdoors, while others stopped walking their pets out of fear that one of the pit bulls would attack them.

“If you have a dog that isn’t safe to walk on a leash in the neighborhood, it shouldn’t be in the neighborhood,” said Susan Wittenberg, who lives on Tiana Circle in Hampton Bays, about a quarter mile from Ms. Corlito. “I feel bad for the people who live on Cedar [Lane], because they are afraid.”

Ms. Wittenberg added that she knows a lot of neighbors who are afraid to walk in their own neighborhood as they fear being confronted by one or both pit bulls.

“It’s really troubling for me, because every time I walk there, I hear them barking,” said a woman who lives on Cedar Lane but declined to give her name. “And when I look I see they are reaching to the handle of the door. I am afraid that maybe they will open it and who knows what it would do next.”

Bramble and Bandit also attacked a man and his dog in 2014, according to neighbors. They said a man who lives near Ms. Corlito brought his dog to play with her pit bulls. According to Ms. Corlito, Bramble, the younger of the two pit bulls, was in heat at the time and Bandit came to her defense when the man’s dog was acting hyper. Both the man and his dog were injured in the altercation, and Ms. Corlito said she paid all of the man’s medical bills and he never reported the incident.

The man declined to discuss the incident when contacted by a reporter this week.

After learning about the 2014 incident, the Catons decided to take Ms. Corlito to Southampton Town Justice Court. On July 8, about three weeks after the incident, the court agreed to label both 4-year-old Bandit and 2-year-old Bramble as “dangerous dogs,” meaning that Ms. Corlito must keep them crated and away from visitors. When they are in her backyard, both must be leashed at all times. Also, Ms. Corlito can no longer walk her dogs in the Rampasture Point neighborhood where the June attack occurred.

If they do manage to escape and attack another pet or person, Bandit and Bramble will be taken away from Ms. Corlito.

When reached this week, Ms. Corlito said she thought the court order was “fair,” noting that she was also required to pay for Ms. Caton’s and Sparky’s medical bills, which amounted to more than $6,000.

“I don’t hold any negative feelings toward people,” Ms. Corlito said. “I’m willing to take responsibility for my dogs.”

She also said that her dogs are normally friendly when around people and other dogs.

“The dogs by nature are very sweet,” said Ms. Corlito, a former volunteer at the Southampton Animal Shelter in Hampton Bays, where she adopted Bandit. She adopted Bramble from a neighbor. “They love everyone. People come over all the time and they show no aggression,” she added.

“I just feel like—I wish people would at least approach me and get introduced to the dogs before they make a preconceived notion about them,” Ms. Corlito said. “For people who are just afraid of dogs, I know that’s not an easy ask. But I’d prefer that to all the negativity.”

Since last month’s court hearing, Ms. Corlito has installed a 6-foot-tall PVC fence around the perimeter of her property. The new fence, she said, should help keep the dogs from getting out. She also said they will be leashed every time they are left in her backyard.

Teresa Meekins, Bramble and Bandit’s private veterinarian and the clinical director at the animal shelter, said the dogs are not dangerous.

“I just feel like accidents happen,” Ms. Meekins said. “Thank God no one was killed and no one was seriously hurt. [Ms. Corlito] seriously took their eyes off the dogs for literally two seconds.”

While she was pleased that Ms. Corlito paid her medical bills, Ms. Caton said she and many of her neighbors are still worried about the dogs.

“It’s always the same thing,” Ms. Caton said. “The dogs get out and people are afraid. Now my incident happened. If they get out again they are going to get taken away. But did it have to come to this?”

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Dr. Teresa Meekins is way wrong and I am shocked that she would say something so outlandish. Those dogs were working in tandem I know because it happened to me in Hampton Bays with two Rottweilers who attacked my border collar while the owner stood at the property line doing NOTHING!!! A few months later the same dogs broke thru a screen door of my neighbors house and attacked her poodle and bit the owner and they were put to sleep.. Shame on Dr. Meekins for her uninformed and irresponsible view ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 2, 16 5:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
lursagirl Really??? How do you know these dogs were working in tandem, did you witness the incident? Granted the dogs should not have been walking the neighborhood but if these dogs were really mean (killers as you say) they could have killed that dog and bit Ms Caton. Shame on you for passing judgement on something you did not see. Sounds like you have a personal vendetta against this vet!!!
By luvdogs08 (16), southampton on Aug 3, 16 1:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
lursagirl Oh my gosh, did the dogs tell you they were working in tandem? I would like to hear that conversation!! Was it a pre planned attack? Get real!!!!
By mr11968 (11), southampton on Aug 3, 16 7:22 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 3, 16 10:40 PM
Isn't that what Dr. Meekens did? Say what happened even though it seems she wasn't there to witness any of this? I agree with lursagirl to a point. Dr. Meekens was not there at the time of the attack and should know better than to say the dogs are not dangerous. Any dog can be dangerous in the right, or wrong, situation. A vet should be well aware of this.

By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Aug 5, 16 6:54 PM
Those dogs should be put down period!!! They are killers with irresponsible owner and a vet backing up the situation claiming they are not dangerous when nothing could be further than the truth. I find it very strange for a vet to side with the owner when a dog and its owner were injured.. That's not an inaccurate professional opinion.
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 2, 16 5:29 PM
2 members liked this comment
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Aug 3, 16 8:12 AM
Yea, CALM DOWN!!!!
By luvdogs08 (16), southampton on Aug 3, 16 1:44 PM
lursagirl should the owner be put down too??
By luvdogs08 (16), southampton on Aug 3, 16 2:00 PM
Heavily fined!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 3, 16 10:41 PM
This Vet should lose her license immediately!!! She is a disgrace to her profession
By hamptons20 (3), east moriches on Aug 4, 16 8:15 AM
Those dogs should be removed and put down. How selfish and irresponsible of Ms. Corlito to force her entire neighborhood to live in fear over these dogs possibly escaping from her yard. Pit Bulls are not safe and should be labeled as exotic animals requiring extensive permits, special housing and strict ownership requirements. Further I would recommend never using the services of this veterinarian if her judgement is this poor regarding the safety of these animals.
By BillWillConn3 (180), Southampton on Aug 2, 16 9:56 PM
Complete, uniformed crap. There are no bad dogs, just bad owners.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 16 1:20 PM
2 members liked this comment
Those dogs should be removed and put down. How selfish and irresponsible of Ms. Corlito to force her entire neighborhood to live in fear over these dogs possibly escaping from her yard. Pit Bulls are not safe and should be labeled as exotic animals requiring extensive permits, special housing and strict ownership requirements. Further I would recommend never using the services of this veterinarian if her judgement is this poor regarding the safety of these animals.
By BillWillConn3 (180), Southampton on Aug 2, 16 10:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
ok, yes this is sad but accidents do happen and I dont think you would all be loosing your minds if it was two golden retrievers. However with that said these dogs dont belong with this owner and shame on Dr. Meekins. The breed is not the
problem the problem is owners who dont know enough or do enough. Enough training, stronger fence, long long walks - a tired dog is less reactive. A dog who
has attached should never be left outside unattended ever. All dogs seem nice to
the people ...more
By jacks (70), hampton bays on Aug 3, 16 8:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
JACKS so you agree with Dr. Meekins accidents do happen!!!
I agree too accidents do happen.
By luvdogs08 (16), southampton on Aug 3, 16 1:52 PM
I do agree accident do happen but from reading the article this is not
the first time these dogs have gotten out. For Dr. Meekins to say they friendly is not responsible. My dogs are really friendly with me
but i would never say that a bite to a person or other animal could not happen. These dogs need training and way more supervision and
sad to say maybe a new owner.
By jacks (70), hampton bays on Aug 3, 16 2:11 PM
The dogs are most likely friendly. The owner made a mistake, Ms. Corlito should know better than to have another dog (I am assuming it was a male) play with her two pits while the female was in heat. The male pit was protecting the female. The owner of the 3rd dog most likely tried to stop the fight and got bit.
I tried to stop a couple of dog fights as it is human nature to protect your dog. Luckily I never got bit.
By mr11968 (11), southampton on Aug 3, 16 7:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
I am sure the dogs are friendly to the people they know but it is clear
not so friendly when off property. These dogs attacked a dog. What
is friendly about that. I dont blame the dogs at all but two bully breeds up against a small dog is no contest. People are afraid as these dogs have gotten out before. The dogs need training and so
does the owner and these dogs should never be outside without a leash on and Dr. Meekins should not be saying they are friendly, suggesting no problem ...more
By jacks (70), hampton bays on Aug 4, 16 9:10 AM
i dont agree with bashing a breed - little dogs are some of the nastiest going but people think its cute - its is never cute no matter the size of the dog. Owners like this however further the fear of the bully breeds by being complacent - just because your dogs love you does not mean they dont need training - if you adopted from the sh shelter you have a support system and trainers at your fingertips. Please use them so we dont lose two more bully type dogs.
By jacks (70), hampton bays on Aug 3, 16 8:59 AM
Any large dogs capable of biting a child or a small dog need to be accounted for.

By Harbor Master (114), Sag Harbor on Aug 3, 16 11:35 AM
Small dogs too! A former roommate of mine got part of his scalp ripped off by a 15 pound jack russell. Don't understand why the little ones get a pass all the time...
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Aug 3, 16 1:48 PM
I totally agree with with you - any dog with teeth can bite or attack.
By jacks (70), hampton bays on Aug 3, 16 2:12 PM
2 members liked this comment
AGREED!!! little dogs can be nastier than big dogs!

By toes in the water (884), southampton on Aug 4, 16 7:45 AM
I have been bitten by two dogs, a jack russell and a chihuahua.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 16 1:22 PM
Just have the dogs put down.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Aug 3, 16 9:22 PM
That is not the answer - the dogs need training and I believe an
owner who is aware of the dogs behavior - The owner of the dogs is
to blame.
By jacks (70), hampton bays on Aug 4, 16 9:54 AM
I am very familiar with this situation as it is my family. These dogs attacked in a pack and were trying to kill Sparky. They have done this multiple times. According to the "Vet" and I use that term loosely because this woman is obviously protecting vicious dogs - he was one bit away from death. This "Vet" should lose her license. As soon as she found out, Mrs. Caton was suing she got very nasty and stopped treating Sparky. The medical bills were NOT $6000 but rather closer to 20K and as ...more
By hamptons20 (3), east moriches on Aug 4, 16 8:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 4, 16 11:14 AM
I have passed many a menacing dog with an owner saying "no worries - his/her bark is worse than his/her bite, etc." I love dogs as much as the next person, but all dog owners need to take responsibility for their dogs. While it is not about a breed, it is common sense that certain breeds/size can do more damage. I don't think I have ever heard of a child being killed by a yorkie. It is sad that residents feel like prisoners in this own homes because of a neighbors dog.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Aug 4, 16 8:32 AM
Any breed can bite.
Dr Meekens is at best a little cold toward the did that was injured and the owner also hurt in the attack.
The key point I tried to make when interviewed for the article which was not included is that these dogs and their owner needs a lot of serious training. All dogs need training. All dogs should be good neighbors.
By SusanWittenberg (2), on Aug 4, 16 8:47 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 4, 16 11:05 AM
Ms Corlito is clearly at fault here. Ownership of Pitbulls require one to be super diligent that they do not get loose because of their reputation. IF these dogs have ever gotten loose before that should have been a wake up call for her to better secure her yard or be with them at all times. A incident such as this erases all the good work many do with this breed. I might also say that two loose larger dogs of any breed could have attacked Ms Catons' small dog. Thank God that both Ms Caton and her ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Aug 4, 16 10:21 AM
Dr. Meekins said they aren't dangerous in spite of the fact that they have attacked other dogs and owners at least twice, and the neighborhood is afraid of the dogs. How many times would Dr. Meekins suggest before they are labeled 'dangerous'. You can argue it is the owners fault and be correct, but one way or the other, this is a bad situation and I am shocked that Dr. Meekins seems to be defending them. When I first read her words I was hoping that the reporter got it wrong, or took her words ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Aug 5, 16 7:03 PM
The German Shepard that was attacked is a female.
Dr Meekens should have been more intelligent and responsible / the safety of people always come before protecting the out of control untrained dog.
By SusanWittenberg (2), on Aug 4, 16 10:22 AM
The incident that transpired inside Ms Corlito's property with another dog coming to play is a different matter entirely. Dogs are very protective of their territory that's why a neutral area is recommended when dogs first meet.

A dog that is in season is a red flag and meeting another dog within their territory can be especially dangerous during this time. It does not matter whether the dog is male or female. Both male and females can be highly aggressive during this period.

Obviously, ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Aug 4, 16 11:21 AM
I can not envision bringing a dog in heat to play with other dogs. It makes no sense.

This though, was a different situation and the dogs attacked. Would Dr. Meekins think they were dangerous if God forbid this had been a small child what was attacked?

By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Aug 5, 16 7:06 PM
I have had the pleasure to own 2 English Bull Terriers (not pit bulls) at different times over a period of over 20 years. These are the "Spuds Mackenzie dogs." I can't tell you how many times they were confronted by unleashed labs, mutts and even small dogs, one of which attacked my loving dog from behind and bit her on the ear. Many small dog owners will tell you that small dogs think they are great danes. My dog was always afraid of small dogs after that even though she weighed 60 lbs. This ...more
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Aug 5, 16 10:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
I know Dr. Teri Meekins both professionally and personally and I can not believe how people are attacking her for making a statement regarding these two dogs. She is one of the most compassionate Veterinarians I have every met. Despite what hamptons 20 is saying Dr. Meekins is NOT on retainer for these dogs and DID NOT stop treating Sparky once she found out there was a lawsuit involved. She administered first aid to Sparky and then did the appropriate thing by sending him to the emergency clinic ...more
By animalcaregiver (14), sag harbor on Aug 5, 16 3:15 PM
It wasn't a dog fight it was an attack! And to deem those dogs not dangerous is irresponsible and untrue on your part and the vet. It was an accident that the dogs supposedly got away from the owner but it was ultimately a vicious attack. Just because you know her doesn't make her words less erroneous. And the neighborhood should absolutely be worried.
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 5, 16 7:25 PM
I find it very interesting that "Dr." Meekins showed up at the scene almost immediately after the attack. I have a great vet but he's not "on call" for my dog. Why don't we let the good "Dr" speak for herself since she apparently has been protecting these dogs for all their other attacks as well. The owner pays off the victims and the good "Dr" tends to the wounded. Sounds pretty disgusting to me
By hamptons20 (3), east moriches on Aug 11, 16 9:17 AM
Obviously lursagirl you have studied animal behavior so you MUST be right. I stated my opinion so now who is ATTACKING who. Get a life
By animalcaregiver (14), sag harbor on Aug 5, 16 7:42 PM
Maybe its you who has study animal behavior but I have first had experience with being attacked by two dogs in tandem. How about "Save a life!" I'm not attacking anyone. The vet made an erroneous statement and there needs to be a correction there and some concern because the Southampton shelter is populated mostly by pitfalls and a like and I would hate to see this vet recommend to a family that adopting one of these dogs is safe if she is so careless with her words. There is no excuse for these ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 6, 16 9:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
My dog was attacked three times in less than a year by off-leash dogs while I was walking her, properly leashed - - - twice by pit bulls and once by an eight pound, curly white furred, yapping terror. One of the pit bull attacks sent her to the vet and me to the emergency room.

However, there was only one party at fault each of these incidents - - - AND IT WASN'T THE DOGS. The OWNERS, who didn't properly socialize their dogs and allowed them on the street unleashed bear the entire responsibility.

In ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 5, 16 7:51 PM
2 members liked this comment
You are correct in your quote but you left out the tail end "Their aggressive natures demand, however, that they be strictly trained ...from the beginning or else its too late"
Pledging they'll never get out is easy to say containing them is the hard part regardless of fence or leashes as they've been known to fail..
No matter how innocent they are they will always be dangerous and thirsty for more.
My opinion not attacking you.
It would be unfair to the dogs to put them down ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 5, 16 11:35 PM
to lursagirl:


"Whomever raised them did them a dis service by not disciplining them and you know what its too late."

That is simply not true as the innumerable cases of pit bulls who were trained to be fighting dogs in the "pit" but were rescued and rehabilitated to become pleasant family companion animals proves:

"Once A Fighting Dog, Always A Fighting Dog?

You ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 6, 16 11:01 AM
I disagree! I read the article.I agree with some of it but the difference here is that these dogs in Hampton Bays are going to stay with the original owner who's the one responsible for being irresponsible with them so if the dogs stay with this owner they will most likely retain the same temperament. The article always states some Pitfalls are good with other dogs and some are not and that its a matter of the individual dog. And I don't think my opinion is deplorable I call it prudent especially ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 6, 16 4:47 PM
It is your experience that leads you to be bitter and clouds your objectivity. I'm sure what you went through was traumatic but it has completely tainted your ability to see both sides.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 16 1:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Golly, what an unfortunate event -- and yes, the responsibility falls squarely in the lap of the owner. That's as a matter of Town Ordinances.

But there have been some pretty awful and over-the-top comments in to this story, upon re-reading, it seems that lursagirl should be on a leash as well.

I've a friend on the Southside who likes to say, when he hears someone carrying on over-emotionally about "pitbulls," shepherds, rotwiellers chows, that "pitbulls are treated like the assault ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 6, 16 3:11 PM
Until you hopefully never are attacked by 2 dogs ripping your own apart you'll never understand my passion or the gravity of the situation. Like they say "ignorance is bliss!"
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Aug 7, 16 8:01 AM
How was it that there was a time when Ms. Corlito's dogs were not both spayed and neutered? (as per her own admission that Bramble was in heat when a fight broke out during a play date) How is it that an animal advocate and hopefully savvy shelter volunteer not know the importance of spaying/neutering in both the sheltering arena but also in the realm of behavior. All dogs, no matter the breed, need to be under control at all times. And they need to be spayed/neutered!!!
By DeniseLeBeau (1), on Aug 13, 16 9:57 AM
The male was neutered before she adopted him. I don't know where she got the female but she is now spayed
By animalcaregiver (14), sag harbor on Aug 13, 16 1:47 PM