- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - A New York City judge says a dog was just following its instinct to protect his owner when he bit a neighbor amid an argument.

The judge recently dismissed Lawrence Ciliotta’s suit against dog owner Nicole Ranieri.

It stemmed from a 2011 confrontation as Ranieri walked the dog by Ciliotta’s house. State Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Ash’s decision says Ranieiri maintains her bulldog, Leo, bit Ciliotta in defense after he started choking her. Ciliotta denied choking her but acknowledged he approached and touched her.

Ash noted that dogs “are universally recognized as a man’s (in this case a woman’s) best friend.” Ash said Leo reacted to Ciliotta’s “physical proximity and manner towards” Ranieri.

Ranieri tells the New York Post Leo was just protecting her. Ciliotta declined to comment.

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