Emotional Support Dog Attacks Neighbors: REPORT

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An Upper West Side emotional support dog reportedly attacked a tenant in the elevator of the 79th Street building where it resides with its two owners, according to a New York Post report.


Video obtained by the Post shows the four-year-old rescue dog, Sam, lunging at and biting the victim, Joe Venafro, in the stomach. After refusing an ambulance, Venafro received treatment for his wound which included antibiotics, bandaging and vaccines at a nearby Urgent Care.

“The animal jumped up and lunged at my belly button,” Venafro, a TV producer and Columbia graduate, told the Post. “He bit right into a scar where, a few years ago, I had surgery for my Crohn’s disease.”

Venafro reported the incident to the doorman and called the police immediately after the attack. A police report was eventually filed.

Based on several accounts from other tenants and building employees, not to mention more video obtained by the NY Post, the dog has a history of similar behavior. Another video shows the dog escaping his owner’s grasp on the leash to charge at and attempt to bite a bystander waiting for the M79 bus. The dog was wearing a muzzle at the time, which appears to have prevented any real harm.

An anonymous tenant of the sixteen-story rental building, 175 West 79th Street (which has an alternate address of 401 Amsterdam Avenue), reportedly slipped flyers with a warning about the dog’s behavior under residents’ doors, recommending that tenants avoid being in the elevator with the dog.

The dog’s owners, Alan Katz and Inna Fayenson, did not seem too concerned about the incident.


“He needed a Band-aid and he needed antibiotics,” Katz told the NY Post. “If it were [a big deal], he would have gotten admitted. No sutures were necessary. They cleaned the wound and sent him home.”

Fayenson claimed that the stress Sam is meant to help her cope with has been exacerbated by the incident.

Venfaro’s attorney, Jeffrey K. Levine, told the Post a lawsuit was the likely next step. Levine is known for representing Michael Cohen, former President Trump’s former lawyer.


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