Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dog comes to rescue, pays with its life

Cathleen Coluzzi said her dog Baxter chased off the gunmen who smashed their way inside her home in Hudson early Monday. Baxter was shot chasing the robbers.


Cathleen Coluzzi said her dog Baxter chased off the gunmen who smashed their way inside her home in Hudson early Monday. Baxter was shot chasing the robbers.

HUDSON — Baxter had saved his master's life once before.

Early Monday morning, when two armed burglars broke through the front door, he tried again. He growled and bit and fought. He ran into the night, chasing the intruders.

A shot rang out. A .22-caliber bullet severed the boxer's spine. A veterinarian ended his suffering.

Cathleen Coluzzi, who purchased Baxter as a puppy eight years ago, said losing Baxter was like losing a family member.

"I loved that dog just like I love these kids," Coluzzi said, pointing to her two sons, Coty, 20, and Kyle, 19. "I'm not kidding one bit."

Coluzzi, 40, was doing laundry about 1:30 a.m. when two men wearing hooded sweatshirts broke down the door of her one-room apartment in the Parkwood Acres subdivision in northwest Pasco County. Coluzzi said she could only see their eyes as they pointed guns at her and demanded cash.

They found Coluzzi's purse and took about $130, she told deputies. Coluzzi, who is disabled from a work-related accident seven months ago, tried to call for help, but a burglar knocked the phone out of her hand.

Baxter jumped on the man and bit his leg. The burglar hit Baxter with his arm and "fired off a couple of shots," Coluzzi said. Coluzzi was hit in the left thigh, but she fought back, swinging a candleholder and kicking. She suffered minor pellet wounds, a Sheriff's Office report said.

Moments after Baxter bolted out the door, Coluzzi heard a shot and a yelp. She found him on the ground with a wound between his shoulder blades.

"He was my personal protector," said Coluzzi, who was treated for her wounds at a local hospital. "This dog was the best dog I have ever known."

One freezing night in January 2007, the temperature in Coluzzi's room fell to below 30 degrees when her space heater failed. She said Baxter climbed on top of her and wouldn't let her sleep. She called one of her sons, who took her to a hospital, where she was treated for hypothermia.

"If I would have stayed in the house, I would have died," she said.

Her sadness over losing Baxter was tempered by one bit of luck.

"He just bred for the first time, and his puppies are going to be born next week," she said. "That's the only thing getting me through this." She and her two sons will each get a puppy.

Nomaan Merchant can be reached at or (727) 869-6244.

. fast facts

Deputies ask help

Anyone with information on the burglary was asked to call the Pasco Sheriff's Office at 1-800-854-2862.

Dog comes to rescue, pays with its life 06/23/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:48am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County


    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts


    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  4. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington


    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.
  5. Former Marine from Florida dies fighting for Kurdish militia

    ORLANDO — A former Marine who secretly traveled to Syria earlier this year to battle the Islamic State was killed while fighting for a Kurdish militia, his father said Tuesday.

    David Taylor, with his father David Taylor Sr., was killed earlier this month in Syria while fighting for a Kurdish militia.