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Pit bulls killed in attack on pet goats

A family's birthday celebration preparations turn chaotic when two dogs kill four goats in a backyard carnage.


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 11, 2000

[Times photo: Joseph Garnett Jr.]
Lauren Gardiner, 10, holds Keyshawn, the young goat that survived a pit bull attack in the family's New Port Richey back yard on Monday.
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Ten-year-old Lauren Gardiner was looking forward to her birthday party Monday night. Plans called for cake and watching her beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers on television.

But as the family was preparing for the party Monday afternoon, Lauren walked around the side of the family's house on Hilltop Drive to fetch a garden hose and made a grisly discovery: inside the fenced back yard, two pit bull terriers were viciously attacking her five pet pygmy goats.

Two baby goats, Gramatica and Shaun King, already were mortally wounded. So were two adult female goats, Rex and Max. And now the dogs were turning their attention toward the third baby, Keyshawn.

Upon hearing his daughter's screams, Vince Gardiner grabbed a shovel, jumped the fence and started swinging, he told Pasco sheriff's deputies. But the shovel didn't work, and neither did a wooden board. The dogs wouldn't leave Keyshawn alone, and they kept charging Gardiner.

So Gardiner got his crossbow from the attic and fired three arrows at one of the pit bull terriers, killing the dog. Then, out of arrows, he borrowed a 9mm handgun from a friend and killed the other dog.

"It was a total mess," Gardiner said. "There were dead animals everywhere and I was running around with a bow, screaming."

The traumatic event didn't stop the family from throwing a party for Lauren, but it cast a pall over the celebration.

"It kind of ruined everything for (Lauren)," said Gardiner, 38. "And it didn't help that the Bucs lost the way they did."

Keyshawn suffered numerous puncture wounds and a broken leg, but the goat should recover, Gardiner said. Sapp, the family's pet pig, was inside a small pen in the back yard during the attack and wasn't injured.

The Sheriff's Office cleared Gardiner of any wrongdoing, saying he was protecting his family and his livestock.

"It was on his property," said Jon Powers, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office. "He felt like he had to protect his own life and his farm animals."

Pasco County Animal Control investigators took over the case and were trying to find the owners of the dogs. The lead investigator was not at work Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Gardiner said he'd never seen the dogs before and doesn't know how they got through the tall fence that surrounds his back yard.

He said he didn't want to kill the dogs, but decided he had no choice when it became clear it was his only chance to save Keyshawn.

"Once they got the taste of blood, they weren't going to stop," he said. "As soon as I jumped over the fence and my feet hit the ground, they were coming right for me. I was, like, totally freaked out.

"I don't blame the (dogs' owners)," he said. "But these are pit bulls, and you know how pit bulls are."

- Cary Davis can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6236 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6236. His e-mail address is

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