SAFETY HARBOR — A 6-year-old boy suffered serious bite injuries Sunday evening after he was attacked by a large dog that his family had only recently adopted.
Tydal Sugar was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg with serious injuries, though Pinellas sheriff's officials said they expected the boy to survive.
The attack occurred just before 6 p.m. in a grassy common area at 300 Salem St. in Safety Harbor.
Witnesses reported hearing screams, then seeing Tydal's mother, Rosemary Sugar, trying to protect her son from the dog.
One witness, Monica Smith, said she was sorting laundry in her bedroom when she heard the boy scream.
Smith ran to her lanai and saw Sugar trying to pry the dog off the child. Smith ran to help.
"She kept trying to push the dog away and cover the child to protect him," said Smith, 40. "She kept saying 'Please help me.' "
Sheriff's officials said the dog was a male pit bullterrier, but neighbors said they believed the stocky, tan dog with a black muzzle was a mixed breed.
Deputies believe the dog may have become aggressive after the boy stepped in an ant pile and began screaming and flailing.
The dog bit Tydal on the head and right shoulder, sheriff's officials said.
The dog backed off as Smith and Sugar, 34, screamed for him to get away, Smith said.
Deputies put the dog in the back of a patrol car until Pinellas County Animal Control officers arrived and took it into custody.
The dog was on a leash at the time of the attack, sheriff's officials said.
Less than an hour before, neighbor Brigitte Davey, 67, was on her way back from the pool when she stopped to say hello to Rosemary, Tydal and the dog — who she said is named Tucker.
"I even petted the dog. I think he even licked my face," Davey said. "He seemed to be a friendly dog."
Rita Farlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4162.