A local college student is terrified he'll be on the hook for hundreds in medical bills after he says he was viciously attacked by a dog at the Temple Terrace Hilltop Dog Park.
— Lauren Rozyla-Wong (@LaurenRozyla) May 12, 2017
Fernando Perez said it happened while throwing a ball to his puppy. He says this dog viciously lunged at him, tearing his shorts, and ripping and digging into the skin on his hip and thigh.
"In that moment, all I'm thinking about is getting the dog off me," Perez said.
He says initially, the dog's owner, was horrified.
"I was half naked," Perez said. "I was covered in mud, I was bleeding. I gave her my number and said I need to leave. Contact me. and of course, she never did."
Now, Perez is worried about his medical bills. He says his insurance company says they need the name of the woman who is the dog's owner, or he could be on the hook for hundreds of dollars.
"I'm a college student and I work part time," Perez said. "I don't really have the money to pay the bills."
Florida law says the owner of any dog that bites someone in a public place is responsible for the damages.
"I would just like her to come forward," he said.
Perez said he's not after anything but the dog's vaccination records and money for his medical bills. He's now on several rounds of antibiotics because it's unclear if the dog has rabies or is infected. Perez will also need at least four shots over the course of the next month.
"It could have been much worse and I don't want it to happen to anybody else," he said.
Hillsborough County Animal Control is now investigating the dog attack.
Currently, Hillsborough County has four active cases involving dog bites in parks; none are severe. At this time, there are no dogs impounded at the Pet Resource Center that were involved in a bite at a park.
Hillsborough County Animal Control says if a resident is bitten by a dog, seek medical attention, if needed.
Oftentimes, Hillsborough County Animal Control is called out to the scene either by Tampa Police or the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. If HCAC is called out to the scene, they will assess the situation.
Options on how the situation is handled varies on the severity of the injury, along with the circumstances surrounding the bite, according to Roger Mills, Hillsborough County’s Manager of Animal Control Field Services.
Enforcement ranges from education, along with a 10-day home quarantine, up to Dangerous Dog Declaration, and dog impounded pending a resolution from the court to include civil and criminal violations.
In the more severe situations, the dog is placed in a 10-day bite quarantine at Pet Resources Center for observation. Once the 10-day quarantine and investigation are complete, HCAC, along with input from the Department of Health, will determine next steps for the dog, Mills said via email.
Dog parks are “enter at your own risk,” and signs are usually posted as such. the county said.
For now, Perez and his dog are staying out of the dog park.