Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Palm River girl bitten by pit bull mix goes home; Animal Services wants owner charged

TAMPA — Destiny is only 4 years old, but she understands what happened Monday.

A pit bull terrier mix bit her in the face.

Her family tried to keep her calm, but she was bloody and screaming.

They wouldn't let her see a mirror.

Tuesday morning, Destiny McKenzie remained in the intensive care unit with two gashes on her face.

And, according to Hillsborough County Animal Services, it all could have been avoided.

Tanya Okeke knew that her dog was dangerous, said investigator Pam Perry. Bear had already bitten two other dogs and the leg of neighbor Dorecus Aikens, 30, who needed four stitches after a December attack.

Animal Services thinks Okeke, 41, should be charged with two misdemeanors — one for culpable negligence and another under Florida Statute 767.13. According to that law, if an owner knows about a dog's "dangerous propensities" and is reckless about them, the owner can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor if the dog bites someone.

The first attack happened in July, when Bear bit another dog. Authorities gave Okeke a civil citation.

After the December bite, Okeke had to sign a paper that described the liabilities of owning a so-called dangerous dog, Perry said.

As of Tuesday evening, Okeke had not been charged. Animal Services is investigating and plans to consult with the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office. Okeke did not return a reporter's calls.

On Monday afternoon, Bear was tethered with a chain. As kids played outside, witnesses said, Destiny tumbled down some stairs and into the dog's reach. Bear attacked.

He did not let go until his owner struck him on the head with her fist.

Neighbors say Okeke had been good about warning people about her dog. But the investigator says that wasn't enough.

She should have put the dog inside, Perry said.

From the hospital Tuesday morning, Destiny's aunt Jessica Dorsey said Bear should have been euthanized before he had the chance to hurt a child. "It was no accident," said Dorsey, 23. "The dog attacked her."

Two big gashes along the left side of Destiny's face — one by the corner of her eye, the other by her mouth — have been stitched up, along with a bite on her left hand.

She was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon. She spent the rest of the day coloring and playing with her sisters, Rihanna, 5, and Raniah, 6. She touched her bandages occasionally.

The three girls live in the apartment at 8010 Tommy Court with their mother, aunt, uncle and grandmother. The kids know Okeke as the "candy lady" because she sold homemade frozen ice pops.

Though the family was angry at first, some of that has subsided, Dorsey said.

"We're not really so much angry as it hurts to see her like that," the aunt said. "She's just a baby."

Animal Services says it euthanized Bear on Tuesday afternoon. Destiny's family feels relieved that the dog will not return.

Aikens, the woman who was bitten on Dec. 31, is sad Bear had to be put down but said it was necessary.

What happened, according to both Aikens and Animal Services, is as follows:

Aikens' puppy, Mama, ran out of her apartment and started eating from Bear's food dish.

Bear grabbed Mama, a sheepdog mix, by the neck.

Aikens intervened. Bear bit her leg.

The puncture left a small scar.

She hasn't thought about the attack much, she said. Not until Monday.

Aikens was in her apartment that afternoon. She heard the girl's screams.

Times news researchers John Martin and Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Palm River girl bitten by pit bull mix goes home; Animal Services wants owner charged 06/05/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 9:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Kremlin dismisses U.S. warning of chemical attack in Syria (w/video)


    .1103< AP-EU-Russia-Syria,252

    Eds: Rewrites top.

    MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed the White House's warning that the Syrian government is preparing a new chemical attack and that President Bashar Assad and his military "will pay a heavy price" if it goes ahead.

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, third right, prays on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at the Nouri Mosque in Hama, Syria, Sunday, June 25, 2017. [SANA via AP]
  2. EU announces record $2.7 billion antitrust fine on Google over search results


    BRUSSELS — The European Union's antitrust chief announced a record $2.7 billion fine against Google on Tuesday, saying that the powerful company illegally steered users toward its comparison shopping website.

    The European Union's competition watchdog has slapped a record 2.42 billion euro ($2.72 billion) fine on internet giant Google for breaching antitrust rules with its online shopping service. [Associated Press file photo]
  3. Forecast: Muggy, warm conditions across Tampa Bay as afternoon storms stay mostly east of I-75


    A muggy and slightly wet day is in on tap for Tampa Bay as most of the rain sticks east of Interstate 75 in the afternoon.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. Trigaux: No more VinikVille as Water Street Tampa finally arrives


    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.&#13;[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]&#13;
  5. Finally, Jeff Vinik's vision has a name: Water Street Tampa


    TAMPA — For years, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and the real estate executives he employs have been dreaming how to transform 53 acres of downtown Tampa into a major hub of living, working and entertaining in the city's core.

    Strategic Property Partners announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. This rendering shows the Tampa skyline with SPP's future buildings in place. [Photos courtesy of SPP]