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St. Petersburg man mourns death of dog shot by home burglar

Something told Louis Russell Wednesday to check on his house, where he found his pit bull, Achilles, mortally wounded.

Special to the Times

Something told Louis Russell Wednesday to check on his house, where he found his pit bull, Achilles, mortally wounded.

ST. PETERSBURG — Louis Russell felt sick with worry at work Wednesday morning.

A gut feeling told him to go check on his home in the 4100 block of Iris Street N. Five days earlier, he had been burglarized.

When he pulled into his driveway about 10:30 a.m., he saw a man slipping out the back door. He had been burglarized again.

Russell was struck, too, by the silence. His red-nosed pit bull, Achilles, wasn't barking.

He found the white, 5-year-old dog on the floor in the hallway, covered in blood.

Achilles was shot twice — in the right eye and right shoulder, police said.

Russell grabbed the 80-pound dog. He was breathing, but felt like a rock.

St. Petersburg police rushed the dog to Noah's Place Animal Medical Center in a cruiser, Russell said.

About five hours later, Russell got a call from the veterinary hospital. His buddy had died.

"He's a tough guy," Russell, 27, said Friday. "But he can't stop bullets, you know?"

No one has been arrested in the case.

The burglar was a black man in his early 20s, about 6 feet tall and 175 to 180 pounds. He had short hair, police said, and was wearing a dark, long-sleeved shirt.

He drove away in a 1980s-model, two-door Buick Regal with tinted windows and 20-inch chrome rims.

Achilles was in his cage during the first break-in, last week, when the burglar entered through a glass window in the rear door.

Russell's valuables, mostly electronics, were stolen, police said.

Russell did not report the first burglary, he said, because he didn't want his landlord to know about the dog.

The second time, the rear door was forced open.

Outside, police found parts of a Nintendo Wii the burglar dropped as he got away. Inside, they recovered shell casings from a large-caliber handgun.

Russell, who works as an auto detailer at a dealership on U.S. 19, is looking for a new place to live. He can't stand to be in the home where Achilles slept on his bed and barked at the doorbell. Achilles greeted all with a wagging tail.

"He was a sweetheart," Russell said. "All my friends loved him. My girlfriend's kids played with him all the time."

"It doesn't even feel like home now."

The other day, Russell picked up Achilles' ashes. A police officer was kind enough to donate $100 toward the veterinary bill, he said.

Anyone with information about the crime was asked to call police at (727) 893-7780, or anonymously at (727) 892-5000 or by text at (727) 420-8911.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Luis Perez can be reached at (727)892-2271 or Lperez@sptimes.com.

St. Petersburg man mourns death of dog shot by home burglar 11/05/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 13, 2010 8:12pm]
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