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Pit bull bites St. Petersburg woman at scene of previous dog attack

ST. PETERSBURG — Five months ago, a St. Petersburg narcotics officer serving a warrant at 3751 First Ave. N shot and killed a charging pit bull.

At the same wood-frame house Wednesday morning, another pit bull mauled a 54-year-old grandmother.

Arkies V. Thomas was bitten in the face, right arm and right ankle before two people were able to pull the 1-year-old dog away from her, authorities said. She underwent surgery at Bayfront Medical Center Wednesday afternoon, her family said.

The two attacks were unrelated, and occurred while different residents lived at the house.

"It's just a tragedy," said Thomas' husband, Willie Fudge, 64.

The victim's niece, Edra K. Morgan, 30, had moved into the house a month ago, according to Fudge. The pit bull belonged to Joseph Bethune Jr., 32, who also lives at the house.

Thomas was running errands Wednesday when she dropped in at about 10:30 a.m. The pit bull was tethered by a heavy chain to a post in the back yard. Thomas was unfamiliar with the dog, her family said.

As Morgan helped her aunt walk past the gate to avoid the pit bull, the chain broke and the animal bolted, police said.

The dog ran around the side of the house and lunged at Thomas, biting her face and leaving a massive bite wound. Morgan could not pull the dog off Thomas so she picked up a brick and hit the dog in the head.

"She beat him with that brick. Maybe that's what saved her life," said Fudge, who spoke to his wife before the surgery.

An unidentified man pulled the dog away and put it in a nearby shed. Thomas and Morgan then ran into the house.

At his home on 29th Avenue S, Fudge said his wife, a mother of four and grandmother of 21, was a family person who devoted her life to raising her children. At the hospital, she seemed more concerned with others than herself, he said.

"She asked me, 'Who's going to do the cooking now?' "

Fudge said doctors assured the family that his wife would make a full recovery with reconstructive surgery.

Near the house where the attack occurred, neighbor Steve Sutphin said: "I certainly hope they get rid of that dog. I could see it was aggressive. It was straining to get off that rope and attack the paramedics."

The pit bull will be euthanized, according to Pinellas County Animal Services operations manager Greg Andrews, who said the pit bull was probably not neutered. Andrews also said that tethering a dog to a post creates aggression in canines and is a violation of county ordinance.

Pit bull bites St. Petersburg woman at scene of previous dog attack 09/08/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 10:14pm]
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