ST. PETERSBURG — Neighbors knew of the two German shepherds that roamed the yard at the corner of 11th Avenue N and 17th Street. Their owners had gotten the dogs as puppies.
As the dogs grew, people who regularly passed on the sidewalk became accustomed to hearing them barking. Some worried they would get big enough to hop the small fence that bordered the yard. But no one foresaw what happened Saturday.
About 3 p.m., one of the dogs apparently managed to escape and attacked a person walking in front of a house next door, according to St. Petersburg police. A neighbor helped escort the person to safety and officers soon arrived. They tried to coax the dog back into the yard, but it charged, police said. An officer fired a shot from his service pistol and wounded the dog.
The dog was taken to a local animal hospital with a nonlife-threatening injury, and its owner was notified, police said. It was unclear how badly the person who was attacked was hurt. The police did not release identities of the bite victim, the officer involved or the dog's owner.
The incident stunned neighbors, who said the dogs are loud and somewhat of a nuisance.
Elizabeth Krupa, who lives down the street, said she regularly passes the dogs while walking.
"I always say 'Hi girls.' And they bark," Krupa said. "I was beginning to keep an eye on them, because I could tell they were big enough to jump the fence. I had a healthy respect for them the past few months."
No one appeared to be home Saturday night at the house where the dogs lived.
Tameria Houston, who lives across the street, said she has never feared the dogs, but other people do.
"I don't think they're bad dogs," Houston said. "They're just territorial. … Everyone is scared of them."
The incident is the latest in a string of dog shootings involving St. Petersburg police. In 2011, officers shot and killed at least seven dogs in the city, prompting police Chief Chuck Harmon to change several policies for dealing with dogs.