Apollo, a 5-month-old pit bull who prevented the sexual assault of a Brooklyn woman, was honored as a hero Thursday in Manhattan.
The friendly puppy had locked his jaw onto the leg of a man attacking Maya Fairweather, 18, on Monday night.
At the hero’s tribute Thursday afternoon at the Pennsylvania Hotel, the light gray- and white-haired Apollo was lavished with toys, treats and fancy shampoos — even a cake. And Fairweather, the girlfriend of Apollo co-owner Carlos Guzman, recounted the attack: she and the hazel-eyed pup were out for a walk in a Red Hook park, where she let Apollo off his leash around 10 p.m. A man came from behind, knocked her to the ground and started to pull off her pants. That’s when Apollo ran over to stop the assault.
“I was on the ground when Apollo came back. I didn’t think he would do anything because he is so friendly,” Fairweather said. After the man yelped with pain, she realized Apollo had bitten the attacker’s thigh. Fairweather said she got up and ran to her boyfriend’s nearby home. Her attacker got away and remains at large.
“I was upset and mad that I was not there,” Guzman said Thursday afternoon. “But it could have been worse if Apollo wasn’t there. He did his part. He’s a great dog. I am actually proud.”
“I will always love Apollo,” Fairweather said, nuzzling her face into Apollo’s. The pit bull was a gift from her brother and Apollo lives with Guzman.
“This just shows that dogs will risk their lives to save their owners,” said Gary Rogers of the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The nonprofit group sponsored the event that came with a limo ride to Manhattan for Apollo and his owners.
His group was so impressed with Apollo’s heroics, Rogers said, that they wanted to highlight that “not all pit bulls are bad. Pit bulls get a bad rap. They are smart and lovable dogs. This really illustrates the very strong human bond between a dog and its owner.”
“There are no bad pit bulls, only bad owners,” said Jean Shafiroff, an animal advocate who sponsored the event and paid for the limo ride. She also is a board member of the Southampton Animal Shelter.
Dog shelters in Nassau County are overflowing with pit bulls abandoned by owners who do not know how to train the dogs, Rogers said. “We can help guide owners to train their dogs.”
An earlier version of this story misspelled the first and last names of Gary Rogers of the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.