Viral video raises questions about commuting with dogs on NYC subway

NEW YORK (WABC) -- After a video of a pit bull biting a woman's foot on the NYC subway went viral, questions have been raised about commuting with canines.

The incident was caught on camera on a 4 train in Manhattan last week when the dog latched onto a woman's foot.

Witnesses said she pushed the dog off a subway seat repeatedly and got into a scuffle with the dog's owner. Now the owner, Ruben Roncallo of Brownsville, is facing assault and harassment charges.

Roncallo said his pit bull is a service dog. But it's still unclear if the dog is a certified service dog or an emotional support dog -- or neither.

One expert explained Friday some of the rules for a canine to be considered a certified service dog.

"If we find dogs that do show aggression or high prey drive or do not remain invisible in public basically, then they are not suitable for our program," said Kim Furino, a service dog trainer at Canine Companions in Medford.

In New York, the owner of a service dog is not required to provide documentation of certification.

Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, authorities can only ask an owner two questions:

1.) Is that a service dog?
2.) What is that service dog trained to do?

Furino said the typical response to that second question should be: "Picking things off the ground, turning on and off lights, tugging open doors, push and close shut doors, maybe even helping them get things out of the fridge, or helping them with laundry, things around the house or also out in public."

Furino said ADA regulations can be frustrating because owners of non-certified service dogs can make false claims.

She added that there is a big difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog.

Service dogs must perform a physical task.

"A dog that helps with emotional support does not provide a physical task because there is no physical task to provide. So those are not covered under the ADA as a service dog," Furino said.

Emotional support dogs are not allowed in public places except on airplanes and residential developments that don't allow dogs.

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