ZEPHYRHILLS — An 84-year-old man walking outside his house Sunday morning was mauled and critically injured by two dogs that got loose from down the street, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.
John Ashmore, who lives on Chancey Road, was airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center after the 7:50 a.m. attack.
He was in surgery much of Sunday afternoon and was expected to remain in intensive care overnight, said Linda Ashmore, his daughter-in-law.
The dogs were shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy.
When Ernest Naylor, 43, stepped out of his house Sunday morning, he certainly didn't expect to see his longtime neighbor and friend being viciously attacked.
But across the street from his house, he saw Ashmore on the ground with two dogs on top.
Ashmore's shoes and a walker he used were feet away. It looked like he was dragged, Naylor said.
"I bolted out the door. I didn't think. I didn't holler," he said.
Ashmore's daughter brought a broom to try to fend off the dogs. She took a swing. Then Naylor took the broom and landed a hit.
The dogs backed off.
Ashmore was bleeding badly.
Naylor and Ashmore's daughter tried to help. He used a towel to try to stop the blood flowing from Ashmore's ankles. There were bite marks on his left biceps.
Ashmore's head rested in Naylor's lap as he tried to stop the bleeding.
"I did what I could do," he said.
The two dogs stood just feet away at the end of the driveway.
Described by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office as a pit bull mix and a boxer mix, they had gotten loose from their owner's yard.
Ashmore's family members called for help.
When authorities arrived at the scene, the dogs turned to attack, the Sheriff's Office said. A deputy shot and killed the dogs. The deputy, whose name was not released, was not injured.
Ashmore was in critical but stable condition Sunday evening, a Lakeland Regional official said.
"The guy didn't deserve what he got," Naylor said.
The Sheriff's Office did not release the name of the dogs' owner or announce any charges.
A neighbor identified a house on the street bearing a "beware of dog" sign as the home from which the dogs came. A woman in the back yard there declined to talk to a reporter.
An official report that includes the owner's name is expected to be released today.
Naylor said he has known Ashmore since 1984, and both have been mechanics. Ashmore once owned a business called Ashmore's Small Engine Repair, he said.
Ashmore had done a number of repairs on Naylor's cars over the years.
He recalls eating his first Thanksgiving in the neighborhood at Ashmore's house. Naylor estimated 200 people attended.
Sunday afternoon, a broomstick still lay in Ashmore's driveway.
Times staff writer Dan Sullivan contributed to this report. Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at (813) 226-3401 or email@example.com.