New York Post, Wednesday, August 25, 1999
PET PEEVE WITH POLICE
By ROCCO PARASCANDOLA
A Harlem man says cops used his small springer spaniel to lure a stray pit bull into a squad car - then later knocked out four of his pet's teeth trying to take his pooch into custody.
The NYPD said it is investigating the Aug. 8 confrontation involving police, 42-year-old makeup artist Donyale McRae, his springer spaniel, Max, and a stray pit bull.
It appears the cops did not break any departmental rules, but that it was wrong to use McRae's dog as bait, said a source familiar with the investigation.
The source also said Max was "out of control," even toward his owner.
McRae, who has worked for several TV shows, said he was walking his 5-year-old dog when a stray pit bull tried to attack Max on West 149th Street.
McRae and a friend, off-duty NYPD Officer Craig DeOliveira, flagged down a passing patrol car.
"Put your dog in the car, and we'll use him to catch the pit bull," McRae remembers Officer Michelle Cruz saying.
"I had to agree to it," McRae said. "Any second, the pit bull was going to attack my dog."
It looked like the ruse would work, but at the last second, McRae said, the pit bull backed out of car, and a panicky Max bit Cruz on the finger, prompting McRae to run off with Max in his arms, the pit bull furiously giving chase.
After getting his dog home safely, McRae later returned to the scene with bandages for Cruz, who said she was fine, and to assure her Max had recently received his rabies shot.
With the pit bull subdued by a pedestrian, McRae then went to see his sick mom in the hospital - only to rush home after learning police had instructed DeOliveira to let them into McRae's home to get Max.
"By the time I got there, it was a siege," McRae said. "There were seven cops there, and the block was closed off."
Inside his home, McRae said, he begged police to let him peacefully bring out Max, who was in the bathroom.
Instead, McRae says, he was threatened with arrest, and it took Emergency Service cops an hour and two shots from a dart gun to subdue Max.
By the time he was taken from the home, Max was a bloody mess, and four of his teeth had been knocked out, apparently from the metal pole used to try to contain the dog, McRae said.
Max was released 10 days later from the Animal Center for Care and Control, which held him to see if he exhibited any signs of rabies, according to the Health Department.
Now back home with McRae, Max has been jittery ever since, dropping 6 pounds and eating only small amounts of food, his owner said.
"This whole thing was just over the top," McRae said. "The damage to the dog was just ridiculous."
DeOliveira, meanwhile, may face charges of disobeying an order, sources said, because he initially resisted when cops told him to let them into the building. Cruz could not be reached for comment.
NY Post Photo: Bolivar Arellano
Donyale McRae cuddles his beloved springer spaniel, Max,
who had some teeth knocked out in a tussle with cops
and the pit bull they were trying to nab.