Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Roaming pit bull a threat to bicyclists on Suncoast Trail

The two friends met early on Sept. 20 to ride their 21-speed bikes on the Suncoast Trail. But this trip would be unlike others that Bill Sharon and Pat Ryan have taken every Sunday for the last five years.

An hour into the ride, as they headed 25 miles north of the trailhead at Lutz Lake Fern Road, a chocolate-colored pit bull rushed out of a grassy area chock full of trees, barking and flashing its teeth.

"We picked up the pace a little bit," said Ryan, 56. "We figured the dog would run out of interest."

After about 100 yards, the dog turned in front of Sharon, 57.

"It's almost as if he sensed me speeding up, and he essentially ran into my front tire like a tackle," Sharon said.

Sharon went flying over the handlebars of his bike. He landed on his upper back, breaking his collarbone, scapula and three ribs. He also suffered a partially collapsed lung.

He spent two nights at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

Sharon filed a complaint with Pasco County Animal Services, and now officers are looking for the dog and its owner, who could face a fine.

"A lot of people enjoy that trail," Sharon said. "I wouldn't want to see anyone else injured like I am."

While Sharon recuperates, animal control investigators plan to revisit the trail with Ryan to find out where the attack occurred.

The dog's owner could be issued a citation, said Kevin Mallory, Animal Services supervisor.

"We've had problems on the Suncoast with animals running loose," he said. "It's about several times a year."

The fine is $150 for a first-time offense of an aggressive animal. The price jumps to $310 for a second offense. (A $13 fee for court costs would be tacked onto either fine.)

Mallory said making sure loose animals don't interfere with trail users is an ongoing problem.

"It's just as hard to enforce people to keep animals behind as it is for the Sheriff's Office to keep people from speeding," he said. "We try to step up enforcement as it occurs, because we hope to deter this."

Sharon, a health care consultant who lives in Tampa and doesn't own any pets, isn't pursuing any legal action, but says he wants the dog's owner to keep the animal under control.

"I would be satisfied if the homeowner was fined," he said. "Advise them to keep his or her dog fenced in the future."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at or (813) 909-4609.

Roaming pit bull a threat to bicyclists on Suncoast Trail 10/10/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 10, 2009 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Harvey regains tropical storm strength in Gulf of Mexico


    MIAMI (AP) — Harvey regained tropical storm strength as it drifted in the Gulf of Mexico toward Texas early Thursday and forecasters said it could become a hurricane.

    Leo Sermiento, left, and Emilio Gutierrez, right, fill sandbags in preparation of a tropical system on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, on South Padre Island, Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level and is making state resources available for preparation and possible rescue and recovery actions amid forecasts a tropical storm will make landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast.
  2. Largest Powerball jackpot won by single ticket in Massachusetts


    DES MOINES, Iowa - Powerball Product Group Chair Charlie McIntyre says the $758.7 million jackpot claimed by a ticket sold in Massachusetts is the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history.

    A Powerball lottery sign displays the lottery prizes at a convenience store Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Northbrook, Ill. Lottery officials said the grand prize for Wednesday night's drawing has reached $700 million, the second -largest on record for any U.S. lottery game.
  3. Florida education news: Computer coding, guidance counseling, career planning and more


    SESSION STARTERS: State Sen. Jeff Brandes refiles legislation to allow Florida high school students to swap computer coding for foreign language credits.

  4. Rays morning after: Offense showing some life



  5. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.