ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A pit bull mix escaped his yard and attacked two men and one of their dogs in the St. Petersburg neighborhood of Bayou Shores in April. The victims contacted ABC Action News Investigator Jackie Callaway after county officials refused to declare the dog dangerous.
Tony Metas said he was walking his dog Sammie down the street when a nearly 80-pound dog, named Roscoe, bounded over a neighbor's backyard fence.
“I thought the dog was coming right at me, at the last second it diverted it went ahead and attacked my dog,” said Metas. “So I immediately tackle the dog and I start to get bit. I was bitten on my hand and fingers, scraped up a lot on my knees from tackling it on the cement.”
Neighbor Jamie Woroner said he heard screaming, grabbed a bat and ran outside where he found Metas on top of Roscoe.
“I tried to move him away with the baseball bat. It did not slow him down at all,” Woroner said the pit bull mix then turned and bit him in the leg.
But it was Sammie who suffered the brunt of the April attack. Gashes were left in her stomach, groin, and leg area requiring 31 stitches and 13 staples. Metas told ABC Action News his vet bills have topped two thousand dollars.
Both victims reported the attack to Pinellas County Animal Services. Investigators hit Roscoe’s owner, Charlotte Frostman, with around $650 in fines and the dog spent 10 days in quarantine. But the county stopped short of declaring Roscoe a dangerous dog and forcing the owner to post a warning sign on her property.
“That dog could be a potential danger to other neighbors by the fact they don't even know it lives there,” said Metas.
James McGill, the head of Pinellas County Animal Services said, by law, Roscoe doesn't qualify as a dangerous dog.
"It has to be a severe injury or broken bones or multiple bites," McGill said.
The state statute defines a dangerous dog as one that, "…has more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal." and "...when unprovoked, chased or approached a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds..."
McGill said in this case, the county concluded Roscoe attacked the two men only after they provoked him.
“He reacted to them interceding in the dog fight and attacked them,” said McGill.
Frostman, Roscoe’s owner, told ABC Action News she had no comment. Neighbors said the county is wrong in not doing more to warn others about the dog that lives in this home.
“There is a very dangerous dog in this neighborhood,” said Metas who said he’s suing Frostman in civil court over his vet bills.
The county confirms Roscoe's owner has paid all of the fines.