An East Elmhurst family is mourning their best friend after he was mortally wounded in an unprovoked attack last Friday by a pit bull terrier that was running around with no leash.

The mauling occurred about 5 p.m. on 31st Avenue near 72nd Street in East Elmhurst, according to Paola Racelis, a friend of Francisco and Maria Gonzalez, whose 10-year-old beagle, Nico, was killed.

The attack went on for several minutes, with much of it posted on Facebook. During some of it, the pit bull is seen with its jaws clamped on Nico’s ear as people beat on its back with poles and posts. One man soaks the vicious dog with a garden hose. Police arrive but are no more successful than the civilians in getting the bloodthirsty black animal to relent. Eventually it throws Nico to the street, grabs him by the throat and thrashes him about.

Firefighters also arrive on the scene.

As Nico lies still, his killer prances around. When the beagle gets up, his attacker again grabs him, this time around the groin area. Eventually it lets go as a cop hits him with a baseball bat. It runs onto the sidewalk in front of what is apparently its home and is then let into the courtyard, where it lies down as a woman who appears to be its owner yells.

Nico is tended to by his owners in the street. He is able to stand, but internal bleeding caused by the pit bull’s biting of his throat proves fatal. A vet tells the Gonzalezes there is nothing he can do and Nico had to be euthanized, Racelis said.

“I want people to know that the pitbull who attacked Nico is still out there,” she said in an email. “A lot of neighbors and myself have seen the dog off leash again after the attack. This dog is dangerous and the owner needs to pay. The owner (Judith) did not even apologize to Maria and Francisco after the incident.”

Racelis said the police said they could not do anything because it was a dog-on-dog attack; that could not immediately be confirmed. She wonders if a child could be the dog’s next victim. She wants the laws changed to protect people’s pets and that the pit bull’s owner needs “to be held liable for everything.”

Racelis set up a GoFundMe page, “Rest in Peace Nico,” to assist the Gonzalezes in their time of sorrow. It had raised $1,130 by late Wednesday afternoon, with a goal of $2,000.

“Nico was loved by everyone in their neighborhood,” she said on the page. “His family described him as loving, relaxed, friendly and unique. He loved everyone around him and wanted to be everyone’s friend.”

(24) comments


This is totally unacceptable. The pit bull is not the problem, the owner is!!! Arrest the owner, fine the owner, jail the owner & put the owner on a "never allow to buy or adopt" list. Pit bulls if NOT mistreated, as this one obviously was, are gentle & loving. People use their strength and loyalty to make them vicious. You can make a poodle vicious but it doesn't have the same impact. PEOPLE HAVE TO KEEP THEIR PETS ON A LEASH WHEN ON THE STREETS AND SECURED IN A FENCED IN YARD. Why are the laws not convicting these owners as abusers & in this case a MURDERER!! My heart breaks for this family as well as for the pit bull who will also pay the price for it's owners STUPIDITY & BLATANT DISREGARD FOR HUMAN AND ANIMAL LIFE!!!


I have trained dogs for 30 years. Everything I know about dog behavior goes out the window when it comes to these dangerous dogs.


I am very sorry "Ditto" but pit bulls are only dangerous when mistreated by HUMANS. My granddog (rescued from the south bronx) and my granddaughter grew up together. My neighbor raised 3 (from the fighting ring) pitties and his 3 children together. Please do not reiterate the falsehood that pitties are dangerous. It is the HUMAN that is dangerous.


Yes there are families who have loved and raised pit bulls and have had wonderful experiences. Over my career I have raised, trained and evaluated tens of thousands of dogs. I typically evaluate 8-10 dogs a week as a behaviorist. I had no pre- conceived opinion about pit bulls early in my career. But as I stated before, everything I know about dogs goes out the window when it comes to pit bulls. And furthermore you should talk to ER doctors. Doubt you will ever find a pit bull in their household. They spend too much time trying to save the life’s of the victims of pit bulls.


You’ve trained dogs for 30 years? What are your credentials?


Some dogs are not able to adapt. That has nothing to do with their breed. The BREEDING often will determine the behavior - overbreeding, inbreeding, disreputable breeding, neglect in breeding. Did you know many Cocker Spaniels can be quite vicious? So please stop picking on the pitbull (which isn't even their official name). Ditto, you only make matters worse by your comments that really haven't the papers to prove it.

Pit bulls are awful

Both the pitbull and the owner deserve to be shot.


Please don't blame the pit bull. Yes, of course, there are dogs that have gone bad, but for the most part it is due to the abuse/neglect/stupidity of a human. To generalize "pit bulls are awful" is unfair and misleading and just not true!


Ditto: Yes, the damage a pit bull can do is deadly (so with any number of large/muscular dogs). MY point is: it's the HUMAN who has not done well by the dog. Do you not agree that the owner/human must know how to train/treat ANY dog so they behave? Or have you found that even with the most dedicated owner, pit bulls cannot be trained?


I give seminars all over the country and until recently the world sharing with families some of the myths regarding dog behavior. I typically start each seminar with 2 of my personal dogs on place beds at my feet. One is my German Shepherd Dog who I imported as a pup from the Czech Republic. The other is my English Cream Golden. I share with the audience that both of these dogs follow the breed standard both physically and in temperament. My GSD does everything including obedience, tracking, search and rescue and protection with fervor and intensity. My Golden on the other hand is laid back, easy going and again exactly what you would expect from a Golden. They both have hundreds of hours of training and are pretty impressive by anyone’s standards. Then I quote the line I hear over and over, “Don’t blame the breed, blame the owner, blame the trainer.” And I conclude by telling the audience that no amount of training is ever going to make my Golden act like my GSD and vice versa. Whenever people state the Pit Bulls are not a breed they don’t understand that all breeds of dogs were created by humans. Maybe AKC doesn’t recognize the Pit Bull as a breed but nevertheless mankind bred specific breeds of dogs to achieve an end result. Unfortunately that end result is very different to any other breed I have ever encountered, evaluated, trained or owned. The other thing to remember is that these dogs were bred to fight. Guess what happened to the ones who were too docile to fight? My guess is that they were disposed of pretty quickly as a bait dog or simply put down. So what happened to the gene pool? Eventually with proper breeding the aggressive gene pool will be diluted. But in the meantime I would never allow a child around a Pit Bull no matter how many times the owner claimed “my dog will only lick you to death”


I totally understand, but as with all breeds, there are good/bad breeding. Which is why I prefer mutts and quite despise that people are now making "designer" dogs - they are MUTTS. Anyway, as for the pitties that are docile - they use them as bait! My neighbor rescued 3 of them and raised them along with his 3 children. Just sayin' - there are good & bad and again IT'S THE HUMAN that abuses the dog to make them aggressive because they are loyal and very strong. My granddog would take a carrot from my mouth. If you said "ouch" she'd sit right down. It's genetics and it's HUMANS (which are the worst species I've known).


I agree but I also disagree. I completely agree that we do need to keep breeds in mind. There are breeds for reasons; more prominent traits for certain jobs. Unfortunately, Pitbulls were bred to fight. This resulted in a high prey drive. I believe that the owner does matter to a degree. No, you cannot change genetics, but you can minimize certain behaviors to an extent. What angers me the most is how people immediately ignore that breeds have certain characteristics just because they want to. You can love a breed but still be aware of their traits that they have been bred for. Back to my point, I think a large portion of this attack was due to prey drive and the fact that the owner is not responsible enough to own a dog that needs to be worked with. Even after the dogs were separated, the Pitbull went after the Beagle. Prey drive makes the most sense if you look at the footage (atleast to me).


You refer to yourself as a behavorist. Are you certified with the Animal Behavior Society? You need a Ph D to be an Applied Animal Behavorist. I don’t think you do have a Ph D because you putting forth a lot of misinformation. There is no such breed as a pit Bull. American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers ARE recognized by the AKC. Just because some dogs of a certain mix of breeds (usually Bull Dogs with Boxer) where breed for fighting it does not mean that Am Staffs, Staffy Bulls, English Bull Dogs, etc were breed for fighting. Many of these breeds and the more recent American Bull Dog are breed by very responsible breeders. Many of the dogs involved in fatal mailings of either other animals or humans are erroneously labeled as a pit Bull. You know they do not fit any of the breeds within the Pit Bull category by their sheer size. These breeds are never more than 60 pounds yet the fatal maulings list dogs way over 100 pounds. Usually these dogs are bred by dog fighters. They use mix breed presa canarios, Dogo Argentenios, mastiffs and a number of other breeds to create these goliaths. Please get your facts straight and stop misrepresenting yourself and AKC breeds and other responsibly breed dogs that fall within the “pit Bull” category. You are deciminating propaganda.


Alright, but look at it this way; Pitbulls were bred to fight. Obviously that is already a bad reason for a dog breed to exist. These dogs were bred to have the drive to fight. That said, it can be maintained. But in this situation, you see a Beagle being attacked by a Pitbull. I by no means hate Pitbulls, I just wish that people would realize that breed racism does not just mean false negative information being spread, but also false positive information being spread. Pitbulls are bred to have a high prey drive, which is likely a very large factor as to why this attack happened. The Pitbull is said to be loose a lot, meaning that it has no boundaries. It sees a small dog (a Beagle in this case) and because of what it was bred to do, it wants to go after it. With nothing stopping it, the Pitbull is easily allowed to give in to it's instincts. If the owner would have been better, yes, the situation could have been a lot different. But dogs that have a high prey drive should also be owned by people who are willing to work with the dog to minimize that behavior.


I saw this video and it made me sick. This could have happened just as easily had the Pit Bull been a Lab or Shepherd or Rottweiler or Husky, etc. "Breed" has nothing to do with dog on dog aggression. Either the Pit Bull was (1) dog aggressive or (2) he was guarding his territory. Since dogs don't have engineering degrees, they don't know where the property lines start and stop so they may consider a dog walking by their home as an intruder. That is an instinct and it is hardwired. If the dog had been people aggressive, he would have quickly turned on the people hitting him with the sticks and bats. Put the blame and responsibility where it belongs, on the dog's OWNER. Throw every law in the book at her. She had no business leaving a dog outside with a squatty 3 feet fence to contain him. I am so sorry the senior Beagle passed. Run free Nico!!!


Well said, well said!


My point is that I am one of the great dog advocates. But trust me when I say that all that I know goes out the window in understanding pit bull behavior.


No, this was not a territory situation. Dogs do know where territory starts and where it ends. My dog is fine seeing other dogs around the block. Notice how after the dogs were separated that the Pitbull went right back to the Beagle? Why? No, not territory. It was prey drive. Pitbulls are bred to have high prey drives (as they were bred for fighting purposes). Rewatch the video (I know it is horrible, but if you still are not convinced) and look at the part where the Pitbull goes after the Beagle again. And after they somehow get the dog to go back to it's house, notice how it is not barking whatsoever? If it was territorial issues, it most definetly would be. I do not like breed racism, but it is not just about the spread of false negative things, it is also the spread of false positive things. I do agree the the owner was a large fault of the attack. This dog needs an owner that is willing to work towards minimizing the prey drive.


Because it's so hard to write/pass laws regarding dog management abilities, the next effective course of action is to pass laws regarding dog breeds. I'm open to suggestions, but the article already said that the pitbull's owners are off the hook and free of repercussions.


In the United States the American Staffordshire Terrier was bred for a stable temperament and adapted for hunting rodents and other vermin and game and for farm work, taking advantage of the breed's strength and courage. Over time, larger dogs became the norm.


That description was obviously written by a “nutter.”


The Staffordshire Bull Terrier originated in England and was bred to fight. Although the sport was banned in 1835 it continued to flourish throughout the 19th century.


The experts of neutral ground, unprovoked, prolonged, suicidal, deadly, dog aggression are the "kill or die tryin" dog fighters.

Dog fighters of North America, the UK, Eastern Europe use bully dogs exclusively. normal dogs with social skills simply don't attack and kill well, especially on away from home.

Dog fighters never say that their dogs are normal dogs.

Dog fighters never say it's how you raise them. They describe their dogs by bloodlines and fighting weights.

Dog fighters don't use other dogs because even Dobermans and German shepherds aren't as "good" at killing dogs.


There is a whole list of groups that oppose breeding bans on pitbulls, BSL. There's a group that totally opposes BSL, but are never included on the list: the dog fighters.

If you oppose BSL, you were on the same team as dog fighters. Whether or not you admit it, you support dog fighting.

Dog fighters must have dogs that will mature, often between 18 and 36 months of age, to have the drive to look for, attack and kill their own family, their own kind.

Some pit bulls are cold, which means they fail to mature to have the drive to kill dogs. However others are late starters, and seem fine for years until suddenly turning on, or starting as the dog fighters call it, when they feel the drive to attack and kill.

The house dogs that killed Beau Rutledge, Jase Fohs, Homer Utterback, and Sterling Vermeer were late starters, having lived with their family for many years, only suddenly to attack, not stop and kill humans.

Some fighting dogs become aggressive as puppies and must be separated from littermates to prevent and killing each other.

Some dogfighters permit fighting dogs to kill each other even when not in an organized fight. They refer to that as "culling the yard" or "making chain space."

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