DeCrescenzo for News Estelle Stamm rides No. 5 train with her giant dog, Wargas. The Manhattan woman has been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder.
A woman who claims her 120-pound dog is protection from childhood memories of sex abuse is in a big-bucks battle with NYC Transit over whether the animal can ride the rails.
Estelle Stamm, 65, won $10,000 from the city after two cops gave her a ticket for bringing the pony-sized dog into a subway station.
Now she's going for $10 million in a federal suit that argues Wargas, her service dog, is protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"These sons of bitches don't like to be told what to do," Stamm told the Daily News as she waited for a federal judge to decide whether the suit should be tossed.
"I don't have a choice. I need my dog. And they [NYC Transit] don't have a choice, either. They have to follow the law."
Transit lawyers have recently taken the position that Stamm - who has been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder and has partial hearing loss - is not really disabled.
Their legal papers draw on 8,000 pages of Stamm's Internet postings, in which she suggests Wargas' breed - livestock guardian dog - is dangerous.
"Livestock guard dogs in the subways is a wonderful sight to behold. The seas of people part before us," the former ad agency manager boasted in a 1998 posting.
In other postings, Stamm discussed dog-on-dog attacks involving her previous service dog, Mishka, a Caucasian Ovcharka that died of cancer last month.
She described livestock dogs as genetically wired with "tremendous killing power" and said Mishka could be aggressive toward elderly cancer patients because "she can smell death, and she doesn't want it near her."
Stamm, who lives near Union Square, sued the city in federal court in 2007 and got a $10,000 settlement in July. Her suit against NYC Transit has been kicking around since 2004.
It contends her civil rights were violated by transit workers who tried to toss her and the dogs from public transportation.
In 2000, a bus driver shut down on First Ave. and told the other passengers they had Stamm to thank for the delay, she alleges.
The announcement prompted an irate passenger to bark at her, "If I'm late for work, I'll find you and kill your ... ass!" The driver was later disciplined.
Stamm said her stress disorder causes extreme fear of danger, severe depression and confusion. The dog keeps her "in the present," warns her of sirens and horns, and provides a large, furry barrier in crowded places, she said.
She carries an ID card for the dog issued by NYC Transit and is required only to inform employees what kind of service he provides.
Being questioned about her disability - which she says is prohibited by transit regulations - has triggered stress reactions, her complaint says.
In addition to money damages, Stamm is seeking employee retraining.
"This is an easy fix, so their hostility mystifies me," Stamm said. "Wargas is not in the slightest bit dangerous. This is such B.S. It's meant to intimidate me."
NYC Transit's position is that Stamm's suit has no merit because she has been inconvenienced only a handful of times and was never denied access to a bus or subway.
Woman sues for 10M for being denied subway rides with dog