updated 08/26/2009 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 08/26/2009 AT 5:00 PM ET
Jennifer Aniston’s new leading man, Gerard Butler, is at the center of a canine controversy after a New York dog owner accused him of striking one of his animals earlier this week near the set of Butler’s romantic comedy The Bounty.
Retired banker Fred Varecka told Radar Online that the actor struck one of his greyhounds, Mayfly, after Butler’s unleashed pug came over to check out the two pups Monday afternoon in Queens, N.Y. “My dog crashed into a fence before ‘yelping’ in pain,” Varecka claims. “I asked him: ‘What did you hit my dog for?’ But he just kept ranting and raving that our dog should be put down – it was unbelievable because the dogs never came into contact at any time.”
But a person with knowledge of the situation tells PEOPLE Pets that one of the greyhounds “attacked Gerry’s pug. Gerry had to physically get in the middle of the two of them to protect the little dog. And then he quickly put a leash on his dog. As far as I know, they are exaggerating; Gerry is an animal lover and simply separated the dogs.
“Gerry is not going to respond to this because he knows he didn’t do anything wrong,” the source continues. “He’s devastated that these people are saying these things, he would never hurt another animal.”
A rep for Butler tells PEOPLE: “A larger greyhound repeatedly attacked Gerard s small pug, so he separated them to protect both dogs.
The Vareckas did not return calls from PEOPLE Pets for comment but told Radar that they filed a complaint with their local police station.
NYPD spokesman Martin Speechley confirms that a harassment complaint was filed Monday. “The victim states that the male’s dog was unleashed and charged at her dog. She stated, ‘Your dog should be on a leash,’ to which the perp cursed her out,” says Speechley, noting that this is not an offense that could result in an arrest. “They are claiming someone cursed at them.”
The spokesman says Butler won’t be interviewed by cops nor will he be sent a ticket.
While the Vareckas were filing their complaint, Butler took his pug to a Manhattan vet, says a source. “She’s recovering right now,” says the source, who doesn’t know the extent of the injuries or what kind of treatment the dog received.
There is at least one dog who benefited from this canine scuffle. “When Gerry was in the waiting room, there was a couple whose dog was really, really sick and to get further treatment they needed $3,000,” the source tells PEOPLE Pets. “Gerry overheard the situation and offered to pay and the dog is surviving because of this.”
What do you think about Gerard Butler’s canine controversy? Leave a comment on PEOPLE Pets.