ZEPHYRHILLS — The owners of the dogs that mauled an 84-year-old man Sunday morning had minor run-ins with Pasco Animal Services last year.
On Sept. 28, 2010, Animal Services got an anonymous call to check on boxers at a home shared by Olga Melendez and Maurice Vankinscott, who was cited for failure to vaccinate for rabies and failure to license one dog.
Another anonymous caller on Dec. 22 suspected animal cruelty. Animal Services Manager John Malley said Vankinscott had several dogs and might have been taking in rescues, caring for them and then selling the dogs. Vankinscott was cited for selling a puppy without a health certificate. Vankinscott also surrendered two dogs that he couldn't take care of, Malley said.
"We want citizens to do that if they have trouble taking care of them," Malley said. "He did the right thing."
Two boxer-mixes attacked John Ashmore as he picked up his newspaper Sunday morning at his house on Chancey Road. The dogs, Kane and V, lived up the street and escaped their yard through a hole in the fence. A Pasco deputy arrived on scene after the attack and fired 10 shots, killing the dogs. Their heads were sent to a state laboratory for rabies testing, Malley said.
Malley expects results in one or two days. If the dogs test positive for rabies, Ashmore will need to go through post-exposure treatment, he said.
Ashmore remained at Lakeland Regional Medical Center on Tuesday, and Malley said his last report listed him as stable.
Vankinscott and Melendez have not answered calls for comment.
Malley said the dogs might have gotten a "pack mentality."
"The moment they begin to bite they think they're doing what they're supposed to be doing," he said. "We never get an explanation of what makes them turn."
Animal Services investigates approximately 1,000 dog bites a year in Pasco County. A reported bite means the animal broke skin — which could potentially expose the bitten person to rabies.
"What people have to realize is that dogs are pets and we keep them in our house and we love them and we interact with them, but they are animals," Malley said.