Man charged after his pit bull attacked woman on subway

NEW YORK, New York -- Police have located and charged a man who owns a pit bull that latched on to a 22-year-old woman's foot on a New York subway.

Ruben Roncallo, 53, is charged with assault and harassment. Authorities say the dog is, in fact, a service dog and remains in Roncallo's custody.

The incident happened following a dispute between the pet owner and a woman on the subway. It was recorded by another passenger, TahSyi Kyng, who was riding with his girlfriend.

Roncallo says he wasn't the instigator. "She attacked me first. She attacked me first," he said.

Witnesses say it started when the woman being attacked by the pit bull, asked Roncallo to move his dog off the seat when it bumped her.

Witnesses claimed she pushed the pit bull off repeatedly.

In the video shot by Kyng, the pit bull can be seen latching onto the woman's shoe and refusing to release, until the sneaker came off.

The owner throws the shoe at the other riders before exiting the subway.

Witnesses say they believe the people were the problem, not the pet.

Several people said the man sat down and put his dog on the seat near him. As the dog laid down, it reportedly bumped the female passenger.

From there, it went downhill quickly. Kyng said the woman first pushed the dog off the seat. The owner put him back up. The woman shoved the dog off again. This time, the owner apparently responded with fists.

"He was like, 'Don't touch my dog,' and he started hitting," said Kyng, "They started fighting, and everybody tried to break it up. The dog latched onto her."

In the struggle to get the dog off, other passengers are heard yelling at the owner to have the dog release. The dog eventually let go, and the man threw the shoe.

After the man left, the conductor eventually came into the car to assist the female passenger. She lost her cell phone in the confusion, but no injuries were reported.

Joe Jhot, chairman of MTA New York City, responded to the incident by saying, "Bringing a pit bull on board any of our subway systems is a violation of the law and the person who does that should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Jhota was outraged because non-service animals should be contained on subways.

However, Roncallo says his pit bull should be exempt from that rule, saying that it is a service dog.

"That dog was not vicious," says one witness, "It was just an incident that could have been avoided."

As for the dog, it is believed Roncallo's family is caring for it.
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