MARY ESTHER, OKALOOSA COUNTY FL - PIT BULL DRAMA: "RESPONSIBLE PIT OWNERS" HELL BENT ON LETTING THEIR MAN-MADE LAND SHARK TERRORORIZE A NEIGHBORHOOD "SOMEHOW" LET IT GET OUT THE DOOR AND MAUL A 19-YEAR-OLD PIZZA DELIVERY DRIVER - THEN IT WENT FOR AN OFFICER'S NECK
A pizza delivery man was hospitalized Sunday night after being attacked by a PIT BULL on Brian Circle. The dog then attacked the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputy who responded to the call.
The dog, whose name was Cupo, was shot and killed.
“He was a big strong dog,” said OCSO spokeswoman Michele Nicholson, adding that the pit bull had not been neutered. PAWS Director Dee Thompson said Cupo weighed over a hundred pounds and was “all muscle.”
According to Nicholson, the homeowner said the dog ran from the back yard at 560 Brian Circle, chased and then attacked the pizza delivery driver, 19-year-old John Wade. Thompson said the driver had been instructed to call the homeowners before knocking due to the dog, but he did not and instead knocked on the front door. When the homeowner opened the side door to reprimand the driver for not calling, the dog slipped out and attacked him.
Thompson said Cupo dragged the driver across the street. A tourniquet was used to stop the bleeding until EMS arrived and transported the teen to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. He suffered extensive injuries to his lower leg and foot that required surgery.
After the attack, OCSO K9 handler Deputy Cutler Petersen and another deputy arrived to assist the homeowner in restraining the dog outside 541 Brian Circle. According to Nicholson, the deputies got its harness and leash attached, but the dog pulled away and charged at Petersen, who then used pepper spray in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the attack.
In trying to get away from the charging dog, Petersen tripped over a raised flower bed and the dog lunged at his head and neck area. The dog bit down on Petersen’s arm as he covered his head and neck. The other deputy tried to pull Cupo off Petersen, but he would not release his bite.
The deputy then shot Cupo multiple times. The dog died at the scene.
PAWS Director Dee Thompson said Cupo had four bullets in his body and two in his head. She added that mace is generally not effective at detaining dogs and may just agitate them even more.
Petersen was taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, where he underwent surgery to repair his damaged arm. He was in surgery until midnight, Nicholson said.
“He used an entire can of pepper spray on this dog and they had to shoot it,” she said. “The deputy put his arm up. The dog was going for his neck and head. He tripped while backing up from the dog.”
The attacks happened just before 8 p.m. Thompson said Cupo had bitten a woman before in her feet. At the dog’s hearing where he could have officially been deemed dangerous, the bite victim did not show up as is required in those hearings, and so the case was dropped.
Residents of the quiet neighborhood behind the Santa Rosa Mall came home to find the street lit up with emergency personnel and what some, at first, thought was a body in the front yard.
Blanca Zapata-Gomez, who lives a few blocks away, said she and her husband had several encounters with the dog and that her husband started carrying a big stick when they walked. Eventually, they gave up and started walking at the mall, instead, she said.
“We walked in the neighborhood every night, but we’ve stopped now,” she said.
Most recently, she was walking by the fenced-in neighborhood park and was startled by what she described as a loud “whomp” on the fence.
The owners were on the other side of the park and the dog had spotted her and run over, stopping only when he hit the fence. She said the dog was "short, fat and very strong," and that she was worried the fence wouldn’t be strong enough to hold him.
“Thank God the gates were closed,” she said.
Neighbors said the dog had a history of being aggressive, and PAWS officials said the dog had bitten a woman before in her feet. At the hearing to have the dog officially deemed dangerous, the previous bite victim never showed up, and so the case was dropped.