ST. PETERSBURG — Snoopy was something of an escape artist.
The nearly 6-year-old Jack Russell terrier liked to roam the alley behind his house in the Live Oaks neighborhood in western St. Petersburg. That's why his owner, Paul Alves, made sure to put him on a leash when he let the dog out for his bathroom break Monday morning.
"He's usually pretty good," said Alves, 38, who put Snoopy in the back yard about 7 a.m. while he continued to get ready for work. "Whenever he's gotten out, he sort of just pokes around in the alley for a little bit and then comes back."
Snoopy didn't come back Monday.
When Alves went to check on him less than an hour later, Snoopy wasn't there. So Alves, a plumber, went to the alley.
He found his 25-year-old neighbor and her children there, visibly upset. Then he saw his dog lying nearby on the ground, dead.
"It was just horrible," Alves said. "You could see his neck was broken."
St. Petersburg police said Tuesday that someone in a dark blue sedan hit Snoopy, and that Alves' neighbor and a security camera saw the incident.
"It appears the driver intentionally struck this dog," police spokesman Mike Puetz said. "At this point they would just like to interview the driver in order to determine their intent."
Elizabeth McNeal said she was in her back yard Monday morning watching her children's new puppy when she spotted what she thinks was a dark Hyundai Sonata speeding up the alley, which is behind the 5100 block of Third Avenue N.
A few minutes later, the mother of three spotted Snoopy.
"The dog was running for its life," she said.
Behind Snoopy, about a foot away, was the same sedan, McNeal said. The driver had turned around and was chasing the dog.
"Then they just hit it," McNeal said. "I heard the dog yelp. The car kept going. I was so shocked."
McNeal called police. She met Alves in the alley shortly after that.
Puetz said another neighbor who has a surveillance system let officers review footage. The video showed what McNeal described.