"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," MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said. "I know the NYPD is focused on that now."
It happened around 4 p.m. Friday following a dispute between the pet owner and a woman on the downtown 4 train and was recorded by witness TahSyi Kyng, who was riding with his girlfriend to pick up their kids.
In the video, the pit bull can be seen latching onto the woman's shoe and refusing to release until the sneaker came off. Then the owner throws the shoe at the other riders before exiting the train at the Wall Street station.
"You should've had your dog in a bag, kennel, muzzle," Kyng said. "It wasn't a service dog."
Eyewitnesses believe the people were the problem, not the pet.
Kyng said the man sat down and put his dog on the seat, and as the dog lay down, it bumped the female passenger.
"She was like, 'The dog don't belong on the seat, that's an animal, people belong on the seat, put the dog on the floor,'" Kyng said. "And he looked at her like, I'm not moving my (expletive) dog.'"
From there, it went downhill quickly. Kyng said the woman first pushed the dog off the seat. The owner put him back up, and she shoved the dog off again. The owner responded with fists.
"He was like, 'Don't touch my dog,' and he started hitting," Kyng said. "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 immediately reported.
"That dog was not vicious," eyewitness Denise Leon said. "It was just an incident that could have been avoided."
The MTA confirms non-service animals must be inside containers when riding mass transit and called this "a clear violation" of their rules.
"I am as outraged as anyone when I saw that," Lhota said. "There is no reason in the world why that dog was allowed on board, down to the platform, onto the train, but let alone harassing one of my passengers....whether it's someone with a dog, someone smoking on a train, someone doing something that is in violation of the rules of the train, I think it's important on all of us to report it, because it's our safety, all of our safety."