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Rose Rocco, state House candidate from Spring Hill, injured in dog attack

SPRING HILL — State House candidate Rose Rocco had one stop left Monday after a busy day distributing campaign signs and literature.

It's one she will likely never forget.

About 7 p.m., Rocco and her husband, Peter, walked up to a house in the 3300 block of Montano Avenue in Spring Hill to check on some campaign signs they had ordered.

A 73-year-old woman answered the door. Standing outside, Rocco started to leave a message with the woman for her son. The woman's grandson came to the door and pushed it open a bit more, Rocco said.

That's when Mister attacked.

The 8-year-old blond Lab mix jumped through the door frame and lunged at Rocco, latching on to her left forearm, just above her wrist, according to a Hernando County sheriff's report.

"It was so fast," said Rocco, 71, who is running as the Democratic challenger to state Rep. Rob Schenck in House District 35. "We didn't hear a dog in the house. It was too fast to react to anything.

"The dog just grabbed on to my arm, and I just screamed."

She was able to beat the dog back, and within seconds he had released his grip.

The wound was deep, and her arm was bleeding profusely.

Rocco, her husband and a campaign volunteer drove roughly 4 miles to the emergency room at Spring Hill Regional Hospital.

Rocco said she needed about 15 stitches. Due to the severity of the bite, doctors said they would not be able to close the wound completely, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"He ripped my whole arm open," Rocco said. "It's a bad bite."

She said Friday that her hand remained swollen and extremely painful.

She hoped it wouldn't put a kink in her campaign.

"It couldn't be at a worse time," she said, referring to the short time before the Nov. 6 election.

She had to go back to the hospital on Thursday to get the wound cleaned, to have cultures taken and for blood work. With the wound showing signs of infection, Rocco was given antibiotics intravenously.

She had another follow-up Friday afternoon.

The dog's owner, Glenn Wilcoxson, 47, who was not home at the time of the attack, was not able to show proof of current rabies vaccinations, according to an animal enforcement incident report.

Mister was handed over to county Animal Services, and Wilcoxson asked that the dog be euthanized after the requisite quarantine period.

A bite report was taken and sent to the Hernando County Health Department.

Wilcoxson could not be reached by the Times on Friday.

Rocco said she was glad that Mister went back into the house after he bit her and did not get loose.

"For me, it was one thing," she said. "This dog could have come out of the house and gone after a child."

She said she hopes people will read about the incident and understand the importance of making sure pets are up to date on their shots.

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432.

Rose Rocco, state House candidate from Spring Hill, injured in dog attack 10/05/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 8:28pm]
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