EAST TAMPA — The girl ran to the front window when she heard gunshots Tuesday afternoon.
Thirteen-year-old Gerkeria' Scott had just let out her dog, Lady. Now the 10-month-old pit bullterrier was yelping and bleeding in the front yard with a bullet wound in her chest.
Gerkeria' said she saw three teenage boys. One held a gun.
The boys took off when Gerkeria's mother and father came running from the back yard. Her father chased them several blocks before losing them. A neighbor heard them laughing as they ran, according to a Tampa police report.
Gerkeria' Scott held a bath towel to Lady's chest while her mom called police.
"Blood was everywhere," said Debra Scott, 38.
Throughout questioning by police and the drive to the veterinarian, Gerkeria' held a whining Lady and cried.
Treatment would cost $800, they were told at Tampa Bay Veterinarian Emergency Services.
The Scott's didn't have it. Debra Scott recently paid for her father's funeral service, she said.
The alternative: put Lady down. This was all happening on Gerkeria's 13th birthday, which was turning out as her worst ever.
Then Tampa police Officer Adam York, who responded to the shooting, stepped in to help. He contacted Hillsborough County Animal Services. It agreed to pay $400. The vet would take the rest in payments.
Even though she needs further treatment, Debra Scott said, Lady should be fine.
"They said she's a strong dog," Gerkeria' said Wednesday with a birthday princess ribbon she wore to Young Middle Magnet School, where she's a seventh-grader.
"I saw her born," said Gerkeria'. "She sometimes sleeps with me."
Police are searching for the shooters, said Andrea Davis, a Tampa police spokeswoman. "If someone is brazen enough to walk up to a yard and do this, we don't know what they're capable of doing."