LARGO, Fla. — The last two days have been absolutely gut-wrenching for Summer Hannah.
“You think about what could you have done more to help them,” she said.
Around 1:30 Sunday, Hannah took her 10-pound Italian greyhound Draco to Walsingham Dog Park in Largo to release some energy. Around 2 p.m., she says three Basenjis showed up in the small dog area. One ran straight for Draco, grabbing him by the neck and pinning him down to the ground.
“My dog wasn’t moving and I couldn’t tell if he was going to be OK or not and I was just crying and holding him,” she said.
Hannah says the owners of another small dog Draco had played with earlier that day helped get her and Draco to the gate.
“We tried to put him down to see if maybe he would start walking,” she said. “He just fell over and he started crying. I just knew he was in so much pain.”
She rushed him off to Blue Pearl — he was paralyzed and had to be put down. She just wants to get in touch with the owners of the dog that ran after Draco to help pay for the vet bills.
“I don’t want it to escalate to anything it shouldn’t be,” she said. “I don’t want the dog to be put down, this is most likely a freak accident, I don’t want to inflict that pain on someone else.”
Chelsea Silverman has trained dogs for 12 years and is the owner of Canine Connection in Clearwater. She says different personalities, sizes and play styles can all lead to tragedies like this.
“You need to be engaged, you need to be watching your dog,” she said. “It’s not a time to be answering work emails are finishing a good book, you should be super engaged making sure that your dog is being appropriate and other dogs are being appropriate.”
She says these owners need to take responsibility for what happened. And in general, dog owners need to obey the weight limits in small dog areas.
“Even just one misstep from a big dog could spell out absolute disaster for a small dog,” she said.
Silverman says owners need to recognize when their dog is uncomfortable and when it’s time to leave. Also only go to dog parks during non-peak times.
Hannah says if you are the owner, you can e-mail her at SHannahFL@gmail.com.