Editor's Note: This story has been updated.
YORKTOWN, N.Y. - For the third time in less than a year, a hiker was bit at the Turkey Mountain Nature Preserve by an unleashed dog, according to the Yorktown Police Department.
The investigation into the incident, which occurred Friday, May 12, is ongoing. The hiker reported the attack the following day and told police that a black German shepherd bit him once on the leg, unprovoked.
Without much information to go off of, such as a dog tag, or phone number, Police Lt. Tom Gentner said it is difficult to track down the owner, especially since the park is frequented by people who live outside of the town.
Police Chief Robert Noble said officers have been checking the lower trails lot area on day and early evening shifts attempting to locate the dog. Animal Control Officer James Waterhouse has been assigned to the case. All phone calls with information regarding the case will be forwarded to him, Noble said.
Last July, the 125-acre park was closed for just under a week after reports of two aggressive dogs, a Belgian shepherd and a Belgian Malinois, were filed with the Yorktown Police Department. During the park’s evacuation, an officer deterred one of the dog’s attacks by using a Taser. The dog shook the probes off and ran away. A local animal hospital responded to police inquiries after the incident, and was able to assist in identifying the dog’s owner, a 49-year-old Yorktown woman who lived near the preserve.
The woman was charged with allowing her dogs to run at large, which is a town code violation. The owners were ultimately required to relinquish the dogs, Noble said.
Gentner said he is unaware of any other incidents involving wildlife at the preserve. The three recently reported dog attacks are the only ones that have been filed, and they involved domestic animals.
“Most wild animals don’t want to engage humans just like we don’t want to engage either,” Gentner said. “And a variety of reasons go into why people get bit by dogs.”
A common reason, he said, is that an animal’s behavior may appear friendly, but then the animal becomes aggressive when a person tries to pet it. An incident of a cat scratching a minor, for instance, was reported the same day as the hiker was bit at Turkey Mountain, Gentner said. The report indicated that a cat rubbed up against a child’s leg in what the child perceived was a friendly manner. When the child went to pet the cat, it attacked. The minor was treated with a precautionary rabies shot.
His best advice to those that encounter a strange animal is to act neutral and to not run away suddenly.
If anyone sees an unleashed dog that fits the hiker’s description, they are encouraged to contact the Yorktown Police Department.