Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas' antitethering law was intended to stop dog attacks

ST. PETERSBURG — When a pit bull named King broke a chain and mauled a St. Petersburg woman visiting her niece, it was an incident a new antitethering law in Pinellas County was supposed to stop.

Anyone who chains a dog outdoors for an unreasonable time — a treatment that turns animals aggressive — faces a fine from the county.

The dog apparently broke free of its chain Wednesday, biting Arkies V. Thomas, 54, in the face, arm and ankle. She was in intensive care Thursday after surgery, said her husband, Willie Fudge. She's alert, but on a ventilator, Fudge said. She faces a long recovery.

Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni said the initial facts of the case suggest county officials could rue their decision to water down the antitethering ordinance in May.

Morroni had sought an outright ban as Seminole had done, a standard that animal services director Dewayne Taylor said is easier to enforce.

But the county went for more flexibility so people could tie up dogs as they bring in groceries, for example. They also decided to stress education over citations, issuing only one so far.

"Whether it's this one or one later, there's going to be a case where the commission wishes it had done a tougher law," Morroni said.

Not only was King tethered, he appeared not to have been neutered. Pit bulls already are known to be an aggressive breed, and the tethering makes them more defensive of their turf, experts said.

"It was a perfect storm," said Marti Ryan, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Animal Services.

On Wednesday, animal services operations manager Greg Andrews said the case was a tethering violation.

But Taylor, the animal services director, wouldn't go so far Thursday. The case is still open, he said, but investigators would need statements to justify a citation and haven't yet been able to get a statement from the victim.

"We did not see the dog tethered," said field enforcement manager Linda Britland.

In fact, the county could be forced to return the dog to its owners, even though they signed it away. "If the aunt won't come forward and won't report it, we have no other choice but to give it back to them," she said.

That's even though the county issued a warning to the owners after the same dog bit someone in December.

That case was considered "very minor" because the dog was only 3 months old, Britland said.

It was one of 1,239 dog bites reported in Pinellas in 2009, with no serious injury. The year before, 1,340 were reported.

Wednesday's attack happened at the same home where a police officer shot and killed a charging pit bull in April. That attack happened before King's owners, Edra Morgan, 30, and Joseph Bethune Jr., 32, moved in about a month ago. Morgan recounted the attack Thursday.

She said she hit King five times with a brick to get him off her aunt. She said the dog had never shown any similar aggression before. She also said animal services officers never warned her about chaining King on visits to their previous home.

Nonetheless, Morgan said she had no plans to get another pit bull and she didn't want King back, not after what happened.

Morgan is sticking with a chihuahua.

Reach David DeCamp at or (727) 893-8779.

Pinellas' antitethering law was intended to stop dog attacks 09/09/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  2. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, right, along with her mother Tranda Webb, 62, pose for a photograph Wednesday, at their home in Port Richey. Pasco's former boyfriend John Riggins doused Pasco with gasoline and set her on fire after an argument last year.. CHRIS URSO   |   Times

  3. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  4. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  5. Rick Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman has chosen a controversial restaurant concept to occupy the Manhattan Casino, saying he made a decision 11 days before the mayoral primary because he didn't want politics to get in the way of progress in struggling Midtown.

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson speaks during a Friday press conference announcing that the Callaloo Group will open a Floribbean restraurant in the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood. Some residents were upset with Mayor Rick Kriseman's choice, saying it will speed up gentrification of the area. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]