Althea Woodson was watching her two grandchildren on a playground in New York City.
It was around 3 p.m. Wednesday when a pit bull, unrestrained by a leash, began to attack the 57-year-old, according to NBC New York. Woodson used her body to shield her grandchildren from the attack, police say.
Delia Rojas, a 12-year-old who had been playing nearby, told WPIX what she saw.
“The little girl, she was yelling, and then it got my attention and then I saw the pit bull,” she said. “It was really bad.”
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The dog bit off one of Woodson’s ears, police say, and also ripped out some of her hair. She suffered another bite on her hand before the pit bull’s owner, 23-year-old Shannon Ingram, ran over and got control of her pet, according to ABC7.
Authorities say they are still trying to determine whether the dog escaped Ingram’s leash or managed to run out of a backyard.
Police told ABC7 that the attack occurred outside of the Eastchester Gardens, run out of the New York City Housing Authority. Some breeds of dogs, including pit bulls and Rottweilers, are banned from the city’s public housing — and the playground was a pet-free zone.
One resident told NY1 that she often sees dog owners at the housing complex fail to properly restrain their dogs with a leash.
That includes one man with two pit bulls, she said.
“They let them off the leashes like it’s free,” the woman told NY1. “One day I was coming through here, this man has two pit bulls right behind us, and the dogs were coming at me.”
Woodson was taken to and released from a nearby hospital, according to NY1. Police arrested Ingram and charged her with two counts of reckless endangerment.
A 2009 study published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that 51 percent of injures from dog bites came from pit bulls. Researchers examined five years of information from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, determining that the breed accounted for about half of all injuries caused by dogs in the data they examined.
A 22-year-old from Goochland, Virginia, died after police say her two pit bulls mauled her to death while she took them for a walk.
It took eight hours for deputies to collect over 60 pieces of evidence spread across the bloodied scene, including pieces of clothing. It also took some time for animal control to tranquilize the two pit bulls, who weighed between 100 and 120 pounds.
There have been incidents of pit bulls acting heroically, too. Baby Girl, a pit bull, attacked an unidentified robber’s legs after he broke into her family’s house in Lincoln, Nebraska, and chased 9-year-old Shane, who was home alone. The would-be burglar fled the house shortly after the dog attacked him, police say.
“It was in a blink of an eye and I was really scared,” the fourth-grader told a local TV station. “Because, it was only me home and I didn’t know who it was and the only protection I had was my dogs.”
As debate continues over the safety of pit bulls, some states and cities have passed legislation that aims to cut down on ownership of the breed. The Huffington Post wrote of a project called BSL Census — short for breed-specific legislation — which uses a map to display the different laws targeting certain canine breeds across the U.S.