The family of a Pelham Bay girl mauled by a pit bull is giving thanks to a Good Samaritan who saved her, even as he wound up attacked.
Nine-year-old Isabella Tropea wound up bitten all over her face before George Steinberg ran to save the girl and her baby brother on Wednesday, May 7.
“It was instinctive,” Steinberg said of his actions.
Steinberg, a 58-year-old videographer, was visiting a friend in an apartment building 3070 Roberts Ave. when he intervened during the dog attack on a group that included Isabella, her baby brother, their mother Dara Grillo, and another mother and her baby.
Steinberg said he was walking towards the building about 3 p.m. when he saw the mothers and kids entering it. Then all of a sudden he saw a dog charge from the lobby and start biting Isabella on her face.
He said the dog then jumped up on the mother with a baby and he automatically took several steps towards the situation. Then the dog turned on him.
He said the dog went for his face but missed, then it bit his thumb and knocked him over. He said he ended up on his back in the street, but kept fighting the dog off as it bit him in several places until a woman managed to subdue the dog. The woman was reported to be the sister of the dog’s owner.
Steinberg said he doesn’t feel his actions were particularly special.
“I didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have done,” he said.
Both he and the young girl were taken to Jacobi Medical Center for treatment.
Steinberg wound up with bad bites on his right arm, right leg, groin, and his left thumb, he said, which required several stitches.
But still, he knows if he wasn’t there the day could have ended up much worse.
“I’m glad I did it,” said Steinberg.
Members of Isabella Tropea’s family said they were glad he stepped in too.
Her grandfather, Phillip Tropea Jr., said that he was told the dog first went towards one of the babies when Isabella kicked the dog and it attacked her.
“Just like she was there for that baby, George was there for her,” he said.
He called both their instincts truly heroic, and he was incredibly grateful for Steinberg’s intervention.
“I thanked him a thousand thanks,” he said.
Isabella’s father, Phillip Tropea III also had many thanks for Steinberg.
“I’m just really grateful it wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” he said. “She could have been dead.”
Dara Grillo declined to comment for the story.
Meanwhile, the fate of the dog remains unclear.
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is currently investigating the attack, said a department spokeswoman.
The dog is being held by the Animal Care & Control agency for a minimum of ten days to undergo rabies observation as required by law.
According to it’s website, in cases such as this one, the release of the animal to the owner, the declaring of an animal as dangerous, or deciding not to release an animal back to its owner is based on the Department of Health’s investigation.
The dog was reported to belong to the building superintendent, who could not be reached for comment.
In 2013, 3,646 dog bites were reported across the city to the Health Department, although a spokeswoman noted that number may also have included scratches, nips, or abrasions.