Saturday, February 17, 2018
Public safety

No explanation for bullmastiff biting baby in Pasco

ST. PETERSBURG — Brandi Dunn has known Champ since he was a puppy. The dog is 3 now, a fully grown bullmastiff. She doesn't own him but, almost every day, she has taken care of him for a friend. The two are buddies. She keeps pictures of him on her cellphone.

But standing before a row of reporters and TV cameras outside All Children's Hospital, she couldn't plead for his life.

"I love the dog more than anything," the Pasco County woman said. "But I can't look at him the same way."

On Friday afternoon, Champ was at home in Holiday with his owner, Meghan Pittman, when Stephanie Murphy and her son, Joshua, who is 10 months old, visited. The boy, who can't walk on his own, and the dog, whose head is the size of a soccer ball, had been around each other many times. Joshua liked to give him hugs and pull on his lips.

About 2 p.m., the baby was sitting on the floor with his back to a couch when, for just a moment, Murphy turned her back to speak with Pittman, according to Murphy's family. She heard growling behind her.

Champ had sunk his teeth into Joshua.

Murphy, 24, of Tarpon Springs, sped her son to a local hospital. His condition was so serious that emergency workers flew him to All Children's where he underwent a lengthy surgery.

Doctors expect him to fully recover, but he has a gash from his forehead to his upper lip, puncture wounds in his chest and deep cuts on his shoulder, neck and head.

Dunn, 19, and Murphy's sister, Jessica Dyrmishi, 25, briefly met with reporters Saturday afternoon to explain what had happened.

Dunn described Champ as a kind, loving dog that had never shown aggression toward anyone. She struggled to explain why he attacked.

"I think it was honestly too much testosterone," she said. "We didn't get him fixed like we should have."

She said Pittman had gotten Champ just two months ago from a friend. He had previously been abused.

It's still unclear whether the dog, which was taken by Pasco County Animal Services, will be euthanized, but neither Dunn nor Pittman intend to fight for his life. They understand.

"We can't have him back," Dunn said.

The family's version of the story differs slightly from a report released by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Murphy, detectives said, was talking to her friend outside, not inside, when the dog attacked.

"As far as I'm concerned, that's a minor point. We don't think the mother was negligent whatsoever," said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll. "Something just happened in an instant."

Comments
Two students wounded by gunfire outside Tampa’s Middleton High campus

Two students wounded by gunfire outside Tampa’s Middleton High campus

TAMPA — With a nation in jitters over a South Florida school massacre, gunfire erupted a block from Tampa’s Middleton High School on Friday, prompting a reaction that had some students hiding behind locked doors.Two senior girls, ages 17 and 18, were...
Updated: 10 hours ago
St. Petersburg car thefts dropped in 2017, police say

St. Petersburg car thefts dropped in 2017, police say

The number of reported auto thefts in St. Petersburg has dropped for the third consecutive year.According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, the annual crime report for 2017 found that reports of auto thefts were down 10.7 percent compared to 2...
Published: 02/16/18
New Port Richey man, 32, dies after losing control of his car

New Port Richey man, 32, dies after losing control of his car

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 32-year-old man died early Friday morning after he lost control of his car for unknown reasons, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Ernesto Torres, 32, was driving north on Rowan Road near Alderman Road at about 3:50 a.m., tro...
Published: 02/16/18
Seminole Heights suspect’s parents sentenced to house arrest, found in contempt of court

Seminole Heights suspect’s parents sentenced to house arrest, found in contempt of court

TAMPA – Howell Donaldson Jr. and Rosita Donaldson weren’t even in court when attorneys began arguing Friday morning about their two-month long refusal to testify about their son, the suspect in four Seminole Heights murders. By noon, they had been pu...
Published: 02/16/18
Florida shooter’s lawyers admit he did it; their only goal is to keep him off death row

Florida shooter’s lawyers admit he did it; their only goal is to keep him off death row

PARKLAND — The legal team for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz won’t contest his guilt and will instead focus on keeping the troubled teenager off Florida’s death row. Broward’s public defender, whose office is representing the teenage gunman, ma...
Published: 02/16/18
From the archives: After fire, art icon James Rosenquist faces bleak landscape

From the archives: After fire, art icon James Rosenquist faces bleak landscape

Editor’s note: In 2009, a fire destroyed the home, office, studio and art of renowned pop artist James Rosenquist at the age of 75. "It’s all gone," he said then. "I’m just wiped out." Authorities labeled the fire suspicious but the case was closed. ...
Published: 02/16/18
Shooting suspect was on school rifle team that got NRA grant

Shooting suspect was on school rifle team that got NRA grant

The troubled teen authorities say killed 17 people at a Florida high school excelled in an air-rifle marksmanship program supported by a grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation, part of a multimillion-dollar effort by the gun group to su...
Published: 02/16/18
FBI failed to investigate tip on school shooter

FBI failed to investigate tip on school shooter

PARKLAND, Fla. — The FBI received a tip last month that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a "desire to kill" and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate, the agency said Friday. Florida Gov....
Published: 02/16/18
Pasco Sheriff's Facebook page a wall of shame for those accused of domestic violence

Pasco Sheriff's Facebook page a wall of shame for those accused of domestic violence

Marlo Sue Johnson was just getting home after 30 hours at the Land O’ Lakes jail on a domestic battery charge in September when the alerts started to light up her phone. "Ummm is this the Marlo Sue I know?" someone commented on her mugshot pos...
Published: 02/16/18
Gun shop owners distraught over selling rifle to ‘maniac’ who killed 17 at school

Gun shop owners distraught over selling rifle to ‘maniac’ who killed 17 at school

At Sunrise Tactical Supply, a four-year-old gun shop in an innocuous shopping center in Coral Springs, suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz purchased an AR-15 in February 2017. It was the same firearm, authorities said, that was used in the mass shooting a...
Published: 02/16/18