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Shasta going home again


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 9, 1998

LARGO -- Shasta, the black and mahogany female Rottweiler that survived a fall from the Sunshine Skyway bridge last Wednesday, will be going home again.

John P. Radd of Polk County committed suicide from the bridge, but Shasta somehow survived the 197-foot plunge. Radd's estranged wife, Donna Radd, 33, of Lakeland said Friday that Shasta will be returned to an undisclosed Polk County couple who had asked her husband to care for the dog. Mrs. Radd said she declined to take the animal because she has the couple's 9-year-old son and is unsure of the dog's temperament.

"A woman gave it to John to care for when she got sick," said Radd. "He had her for the last five years. I don't want to take the chance."

Radd, 44, jumped from the main span of the Skyway bridge around 6:20 a.m. Wednesday. The dog either went with him or followed. His widow said events leading to her estranged husband's suicide began Sunday, when he set fire to a mobile home he was renting, destroying it and its contents.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office confirmed that a fire occurred at the G & H Park, 4105 Ryals Road, in the Willow Oak area of unincorporated Polk County. Radd said her former husband lived at the address.

"He had all of the papers on the table like he wanted them to burn," she says. "I haven't seen him in two years. We were supposed to go to court on June 5th for child support."

A St. Petersburg veterinarian out on a fishing trip rescued Shasta from beneath the bridge and administered first aid without knowing how the dog got in the water. Shasta is recuperating at the Largo Veterinary Hospital. She suffered some neurological damage to her front right paw.

News of the dog's survival caused hundreds of animal lovers to call the hospital seeking medical updates and information about adopting. Although Radd declined to reveal the name of the Lakeland couple who will take the pet, she said Shasta will have a loving home with plenty of room to run.

"They'll take real good care of her," she said. "They have two other dogs and a fenced-in yard."

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