ST. PETERSBURG — Betty Nebbia feels awful about what happened to her little Yorkshire terrier, Ditto.
But also she feels awful about the two pit bull terriers sitting in quarantine at Pinellas County Animal Services shelter.
"I've been going through the day with a lot of what ifs," Nebbia said. "But what has happened has happened."
There's not a whole lot she could have done differently. On Saturday morning, 79-year-old Nebbia was walking Ditto in her Westminster Shores retirement community, just as she has every morning.
Almost as soon as she noticed two skinny pit bulls running around loose in a lawn off Bahama Shores Drive, Ditto did, too. Ditto yapped at them.
The barking caught the attention of the larger of the two pit bulls.
"They both came barrelling, and before I knew it, she (the larger pit bull) was chewing on Ditto," Nebbia said. "And Ditto was screaming."
Nebbia tried to break up the attack but got bit on her hands and arm. The female pit bull wedged between Nebbia and Ditto and pushed back on Nebbia, knocking her to the ground.
The pit bull appeared to break Ditto's neck, she said, then ran off still carrying Ditto in its mouth.
Some contractors saw what happened and approached the pit bulls, which appeared calm after the attack. They captured the dogs and turned them over to animal services.
Nebbia was treated for bites. Ditto died.
The pit bulls are waiting out a 10-day quarantine. If no owner comes forward, said animal services operations manager Greg Andrews, "they'll more than likely be put down."
"We would not adopt out an aggressive dog," he said. "I kind of doubt any owner would come forward at this point."
The younger-looking of the two dogs was not involved in the attack, she said.
"It's a shame," she said. "I certainly felt awful my dog had to be involved."
Nebbia vows to never adopt another dog.
Emily Nipps can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8452.