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Tampa Bay briefs

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2000

Girl mauled by family dogs listed in fair condition

TAMPA -- The 17-year-old Plant City girl attacked by her family's pet Rottweilers was in fair condition at Tampa General Hospital on Thursday.

Tanya West, a senior at Plant City High, had been playing with the four dogs Wednesday when, authorities say, the animals turned on her outside the family home near Clay Gulley Creek.

Trouble started when she attempted to pull the sole male dog among the group back to his pen, according to officials at Hillsborough County Animal Services.

The male dog started to growl, so Tanya let go. But all four dogs turned on the girl as she attempted to run into the house, biting her more than 100 times on the face, arms and legs, all within a one-minute span. The dogs dragged her 50 feet before her 20-year-old brother came running to save her.

The Rottweilers were immediately killed by toxic injection, a requirement by law for dogs causing severe injuries.

Armed robber hacks into shop but gets nothing

BRANDON -- A masked robber was waiting inside when two employees of a check-cashing store arrived for work Thursday.

Hillsborough sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Rod Reder said the man pried open the door of a patio furniture store directly behind Ace Check Cashing at 1355 W Brandon Blvd. He then cut through the drywall separating the businesses.

When janitor Alex Cantres and Ace employee Diana Matos arrived about 8:30 a.m., the man pulled a gun, Reder said. With the gun trained on Matos, the suspect bound Cantres' hands with duct tape and put him on the floor.

What the suspect didn't know, Reder said, was that Matos had set off the store's silent alarm. When a deputy pulled into the parking lot less than a minute later, the suspect ran out the way he'd come in. Deputies didn't find him.

Clearwater woman killed in crash on Belcher Road

PINELLAS PARK -- A 51-year-old Clearwater woman was killed in a traffic accident Thursday morning after she tried to turn onto Belcher Road.

Peggy R. Blanton of 602 College Hill Drive in Clearwater, suffered head injuries in the crash and died at Largo Medical Center about an hour later, police said.

Blanton was driving her red Nissan 240SX west on 124th Avenue N when she came to Belcher and tried to turn left to head south. In doing so, she pulled in front of a Chevrolet pickup truck that was headed north on Belcher, according to Pinellas Park police.

The pickup struck the Nissan broadside. The pickup's driver, Loren Smith, 43, of Pinellas Park, received leg injuries and was taken to Bayfront Medical Center.

Police were investigating, and no charges were filed Thursday.

Arson damages vacant house, a drug users' haven

ST. PETERSBURG -- An arson badly damaged a vacant house Thursday morning south of downtown St. Petersburg, but authorities don't think it was connected to a recent string of arsons downtown.

The old wooden two-story house at 949 Eighth Ave. S had been abandoned about a year. Neighbors considered it to be a nuisance because they saw drug users frequenting the property, firefighters said.

Smoke from the fire was first seen about 10:15 a.m. Someone was seen leaving the property 15 to 20 minutes before that, said St. Petersburg fire Lt. Chris Bengivengo.

Another fire Thursday morning, in the Mobile Americana trailer park at 7230 Fourth St. N, was accidental. A heater in a mobile home malfunctioned and sparked the fire, causing about $10,000 damage to the home. A woman was home at the time, but she was not hurt.

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