TAMPA, Fla. — A 4-year-old boy had to be airlifted to Tampa General Hospital after he was viciously attacked by a dog in the parking lot of a Winn-Dixie.
The incident happened Friday, outside the Winn Dixie on Stringfellow Road in Pine Island, the entire attack was captured on video.
In the video, investigators said the boy and his parents could be seen walking out of the store. Suddenly, a gray mass — a dog named Sage — appears from between cars and pounces on the boy. The dog's owner, later identified as Stephanie Taylor, is seen pulling Sage off of the boy. But it wasn't enough.
Sage attacks the boy a second time. This time, witnesses said the dog bit the boy, taking a chunk out of his cheek.
The boy involved in the attack was airlifted to the hospital for injuries on his face. His family said he is expected to make a speedy recovery.
The victim's father told investigators the boy was bitten on the shoulder in the first pounce and then on the face. He also said he intended to press charges.
Sage, the 4-year-old Pit Bull, is quarantined at Lee County Animal Services until May 21.
According to arrest records, Sage has been aggressive to both dogs and people in the past — biting dogs in 2017 and an animal control officer in 2018. Investigators said Sage was up to date on her rabies shot.
Animal control in Fort Myers could not comment on the incident specifically but said a dog is not automatically put down because of an attack. "It depends on the severity of the bite or scratch, or if there is a propensity," said Karen Fordiani, Public Information Specialist at Lee Animal Services.
According to Fordiani, in the case of dog attacks, animal services may designate a pet as a 'dangerous animal.' A pet owner can either appeal the designation, or accept it, and get their dog back under very strict conditions. "If they decide to do that, they'll have to pay a $1,500 registration fee for their animal, they'll have to have signs at every entrance and exit of their residence, we have to come inspect," she said.
The owner would have to comply with regular inspections from animal control to make sure their residence is secure, their dog would have to be muzzled and on a harness any time it leaves home, and pay a $500 annual fee to have their pet.
Animals are deemed dangerous according to Florida Statute. Fordiani said the law is designed this way so that if a pet owner follows all guidelines pertaining to the dangerous animal designation, there should not be a second attack.
The dog's owner plans to go through the process to get Sage back, and said he wishes the child well.