Toy poodle attacked after walk in park

According to his owner, four big dogs approached them, one of which bit into the tiny dog, perforating his abdomen.

Published January 9, 2007

DUNEDIN - For years, Toby, a 14-year-old white toy poodle, took daily walks in Hammock Park with his owner, Judy Maday.

But a walk Sunday was Toby's last.

A large dog attacked Toby just outside Hammock Park, inflicting multiple bite wounds on his body.

Toby underwent surgery Sunday, but was euthanized on Monday.

"He's my best friend. He's all I've got," said Maday, 58, of Dunedin. "I'm sick over this."

Maday, a real estate investor, said she had just unclipped Toby's leash after the walk and was about to pick him up and put him in the car, which was parked on Harvard Avenue. But from a Hammock Park bridge, four big dogs came running toward them, she said.

"I keep blaming myself," Maday said. "If I had just been quicker."

Maday said two of the dogs were black Labrador retrievers and the other two were German shepherds.

One of the black Labs bit down on Toby, Maday said, and she hit the dog hard on the head before it released Toby. She said Toby was distressed when she snatched him up, and he scratched and bit her hands.

A woman who apparently owned the four dogs was in the distance. But Maday said the woman offered no apology and started to leave with the dogs.

Maday said she asked the woman for her name and address. The woman said her name was Karen Wilder and was from Michigan, and she gave Maday an address on Patricia Avenue.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office was unable to find a person of that name at the address given.

Others say they have seen the woman with the four dogs, that she's a regular at the park.

Art Finn, park superintendent for Dunedin Leisure Services, said a park employee had once warned the woman to put the dogs on leashes and that he encountered the woman with four dogs himself about a month ago at Hammock Park.

"I asked her to put her dogs on a leash," he said. "She said, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah' and walked on by and just kept going."

Finn said the woman may have said something about having the dogs under voice control and that they had never been a problem.

Finn said the city is looking at changing its ordinance to require dogs to be on 6-foot leashes - not just voice command - at all times.

Sheriff's office spokesman Sgt. Jim Bordner said no criminal investigation is under way, but a dog bite report may be in process.

An officer filed an incident report and Bordner said it has been referred to community policing deputies. They will set up extra patrols to curtail the number of dogs off leashes at Hammock Park and also try to locate the woman, he said.

"There's no indication that the dog is dangerous," he said. "We don't know who the dog is."

Maday rushed Toby to Animal Emergency of Countryside for treatment.

A veterinarian repaired a hernia, torn muscles in his abdominal wall, and he pulled through the surgery.

On Monday, Maday brought Toby to her veterinarian, Gursager Singh.

Singh said Toby was in severe pain, with bruises and puncture wounds that could cause infections and other complications.

But by Monday afternoon, Toby was in such severe pain, Maday said, that she decided to have him euthanized.

"He was screaming in pain; the morphine wasn't enough," she said.

Theresa Blackwell can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or at 727 445-4170.