A week after a 65-pound pit bull attacked and severely injured a woman at an apartment complex on the island’s West End, police have arrested the dog’s owner and charged him with a felony.

Nicola Notarnicola, 59, of Galveston, was arrested and charged Thursday with attack by dog resulting in serious bodily injury. The charge is a felony under the Texas Health and Safety Code.

The attack happened Jan. 23 at the Club of the Isle apartments on Cove View Boulevard, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Daily News.

A woman who lived at the apartment complex stepped out of an elevator and was charged by a tan and white pit bull, according to the affidavit. The woman was carrying her own dog, which she lifted above her head, according to the affidavit.

The pit bull, named Dominick, bit the woman’s thigh and calf, according to the affidavit.

A witness to the attack was able to distract the pit bull for a short time, but it attacked and bit her leg a second time, according to the affidavit.

A second witness, who was driving by in a truck, stopped and was able to get the woman and her dog inside his vehicle. That driver took the woman to the University of Texas Medical Branch.

The woman underwent at least two surgeries and is scheduled to have more, according to the affidavit.

A witness told police the pit bull’s owner came out of a nearby apartment after the attack and captured the dog. The owner said the dog had run past him when he opened the apartment door, according to the affidavit.

Police identified the man and reviewed previous police reports he had been named in, dating back to 2013. In one case, the pit bull had attacked another person; in another, the dog had attacked and killed another dog after breaking through a window, according to the affidavit.

The most recent previous attack happened on Dec. 27 at the apartment complex when the pit bull attacked another resident. The other incidents happened in Texas City, according to the affidavit.

Police went back to the Club of the Isle apartment complex on Jan. 26 and interviewed the pit bull’s owner. The man at first said “he had no knowledge of the dog being aggressive,” but later said he knew the dog was “dangerous” and had attacked humans and other dogs, according to the affidavit.

Galveston Police Sgt. Joel Caldwell, head of the city’s animal control division, said the pit bull was euthanized after the attack. The dog’s owner agreed to have the animal killed.

When police arrived to arrest him, Notarnicola was packing a moving truck, Caldwell said. While being taken into custody, police also found methamphetamine in the man’s pocket, Caldwell said.

Notarnicola also was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, Caldwell said.

A person can be charged for their dog’s actions if they fail to secure the animal, if the attack is unprovoked and if they knew the dog was dangerous.

If convicted, Notarnicola could spend between two and 10 years in prison and be fined up to $10,000.

Notarnicola was held on $45,000 bond. He was in custody at the Galveston County jail on Friday afternoon.

Caldwell said he could recall only one other time when Galveston authorities had charged a person over a dog attack.

“This dog has a documented of history of unprovoked attacks and the owner should have known,” he said.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


Senior Reporter

(9) comments

Steve Fouga

I'm so glad this man has been charged. I wish it would happen more often. Better yet if he sees prison time, even the minimum. I think prison time for failing to control dogs would be an excellent deterrent to people failing to train their dogs, or choosing to ignore leash laws. It wouldn't eliminate the problem, but it would deter some people. Deterring even half would be appreciated.

Bill Cochrane

This is a typical case where preventative laws should be in place. This dog had at least a three year documented history of aggressive behavior. There should be laws in place that require dog owners to register the aggressive dog after the first instance of dangerous behavior. The owner should be required to post a bond in case he the dog attacks again. If it happens again the bond would be revoked and steps taken to insure it does not happen again. Either the system failed here, or lack of a system allowed a person to be injured. This attack could have easily been on a child. This quote from Police Sgt. Caldwell tells volumes. “This dog has a documented history of unprovoked attacks and the owner should have know”. Wait. “the owner should have known”? SERIOUSLY? Of course the owner knows. The owner does not care. The police are the ones that knew the dog was dangerous, but nothing was done. The legal system has a responsibility here too. If there are no laws to protect citizens from “documented attacks”, now’s the time for the City review this issue and take what ever action is necessary to prevent this from happening again. I have a question for Sgt. Caldwell and Galveston City Council. If your child, or grandchild were attacked by a documented aggressive dog, would it be important enough to pass an ordinance that would deter further attacks?

Jim Forsythe

Bill, this is some of the laws we have in place.. The things you  wanted , some of them are already on  the books. Remember the lady in  Texas City that they imposed the $100,000 requirement . At the bottom is the link to what I found.

      Keeping a Dangerous Dog (Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 822 Sub-Chapter D).  A dangerous dog is defined as one that makes unprovoked attacks or acts like its going to attack a person when it is out of the enclosure which it is being kept.  State of Texas law (Chapter 822.041) states that the owner of a dangerous dog must register the dog with animal control office or the Sheriff Office in areas without an animal control office and restrain the dog at all times on a leash when outside its secure enclosure.  The owner must also purchase a $100,000 liability insurance policy specific for the dog to cover the cost of potential damage to a person.  This law became effective in 1991
              HB-1355—Known as Lillian’s Law.  This law provides that a dog owner can be held criminally responsible if the dog causes serious bodily injury or death at a location other than the owner’s property in an unprovoked attack during which the owner by criminal negligence failed to secure the dog
               Dogs Dangerous to Animals (Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 822 Subchapter B).  The owner or keeper of a dog that the person knows is accustomed to chase or kill livestock, domestic animals, or fowl may not allow the dog to run at large.  The penalty of the owner who allows his dog to run at large is in violation and can be punished with a fine not to exceed $100.  This law became effective in 1989.

Bill Cochrane

Thanks Jim. Actually I was pretty sure there were laws, but wanted to make the point that the City, (Animal Control Dept.) failed. The reporter may have missed something in the story, but the quote doesn’t show that. The State laws should have been enforced by the City. Right?

Susan Smith

I"ll donate the bullet for the dog

Jim Forsythe

Galveston Police Sgt. Joel Caldwell, head of the city’s animal control division, said the pit bull was euthanized after the attack. The dog’s owner agreed to have the animal killed.

Steve Fouga

"A dangerous dog is defined as one that makes unprovoked attacks or acts like its going to attack a person when it is out of the enclosure which it is being kept."

Wow, that's exactly how I would define too!

This definition could be applied to a small but noticeable percentage of the dogs running free on Galveston beaches. I enjoy seeing the puppers having a great time, except for those who attack me when I'm riding my bike. 😡😡😡😡😡

jeremy franklin

This used to be a beautiful place till live. It has gone downhill in the last few years. There used to be a 0 tolerance policy for pitbulls and the staff was very proactive in meeting people's canines before they move in. What a horrible story.

Blanca Bell

Lock him up!!!

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