HARLEM — Anastasia Pavlova hasn’t returned to her apartment since Bentley, her 3-year-old white Maltese was killed over the weekend.
“This is my baby, I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a child, I don’t have a family. I’m an immigrant,” said Pavlova, 27, of Siberia. She’s been staying with a friend because her apartment reminds her of her lost companion. “My dog died in my hands.”
Bentley was mauled to death Saturday about 11:30 a.m. at the dog run on the southeast corner of Marcus Garvey Park, where Pavlova took him to every day.
There were many dogs — big and small breeds — in the park. Pavlova, who took Bentley to the run nearly every day, said she didn’t recognize all of them so she stood by the gate and asked the owners if their dogs get along with small breeds.
They all said yes so she opened the gate and went inside. Bentley, stood up on his hind legs and jumped up and down in excitement, she recalled.
“I don’t remember, it happened so fast,” she said. “In a second, I saw that a dog grabbed him by the mouth and ran off.”
A large pit bull bit Bentley on his ribs and carried him off. His caretaker — who no one at the dog run recognized and left soon after the attack — yelled at the pit bull and even hit him, but the dog would not let go, Pavlova said.
She somehow managed to get Bentley and run to Harlem Animal Hospital where doctor Giovanna Kiani was waiting for her.
“The dog had bit through his rib cage into the lungs,” the vet said.
Bentley was bleeding out and the doctor was unable to save him.
The Marcus Garvey Dog Run is made up of a dedicated community of dog lovers who visit daily and pride themselves on keeping the space safe and welcoming, said Millie Gonzalez, who organizes events for the dog run.
They were so shocked by Saturday’s events that they held a special meeting, inviting representatives from the NYPD's 25th Precinct, Harlem Animal Hospital and the Parks Department.
One of the main priorities was finding the people responsible for the out-of-control dog. To help spread the word, they posted a picture of the two men they believe brought the dog to the park on their Facebook page.
They are not sure if the men that brought the dog to the park are its owners or simply dog walkers, Gonzalez said.
“The last thing I want to do is demonize a breed that’s already been victimized,” said Gonzalez, 44. “This is an issue of what responsible pet ownership is.”
Unfortunately even if they do find the dog’s owner, they may not find the type of justice they are looking for.
There is nothing criminal about the attack, according to the NYPD.
The captain told the group that he would ask an officer to patrol the dog run portion of the park more and talk with the Parks Department about how they can better respond to dog-on-dog violence.
At the meeting Pavlova, who works in property management, retold the story of Bentley’s death and called for dog owners to be more responsible.
“It could have been a child,” she said.
She asked friends to retrieve Bentley's dog toys, treats, beds and other accessories from her apartment, and has donated them to other dog owners.
One small consolation is the outpouring of community support she has received the last couple of days.
“People start to send me flowers,” she said. “I appreciate it.”