FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Fort Lauderdale man is speaking out after a trio of dogs attacked him while trying to defend his smaller pets, and neighbors said this is not the first time those canines have injured other people.
Thomas Hartwig described the horrific series of events that unfolded while out walking his Italian greyhounds, Luigi and Giovanni, in Fort Lauderdale’s Middle River Terrace neighborhood, Sept. 10.
For the dog owner, the morning walk was part of a standard routine.
“We did the same walk every morning, every afternoon, every evening,” he said.
But on that day, things took a violent and tragic turn.
Hartwig said three dogos Argentinos somehow got away from their owner and went on the attack.
“They came, and they attacked my little boy Giovanni first,” he said. “I bent down to try to pick him up and get him out of the jaws of one of the dogs, and another dog grabbed me by the neck.”
Hartwig said he yelled out at the dogos’ owner.
“As I was on the ground, I started screaming, ‘Your dog is killing me,'” he said.
Hartwig was taken to the hospital for bites to his head and neck. Doctors had to use 17 staples to close the wounds.
Luigi and Giovanni were not as fortunate.
“They had to be — I’m sorry,” said Hartwig as he fought back tears.
Both dogs were put down.
Area residents said this isn’t the first time the dogos’ owner lost control of the animals.
Several months ago, Robert Farrington said, he came to the owner’s home to deliver mail sent to him by mistake.
“On February 10th, I actually received mail from two doors down,” he said.
Farrington said he knocked on the door to drop off the mail. His neighbor opened the door, and within seconds, his dogos showed up.
“Two of his dogs just pushed the door open and started attacking me,” said Farrington.
The victim said he was bitten on his hands, legs and chest, but even after such a traumatic event, he doesn’t blame the dogs. He said he and his neighbors are only upset with their owner.
“He’s very irresponsible as far as the care of those dogs,” said neighbor John Gilson.
Broward Animal Care has ordered the dogos’ owner, to muzzle his animals whenever he takes them out of their home. He was issued citations after the Sept. 10 incident, and the county is working to have the dogos classified as dangerous.
Area residents are now being extra careful when going out to walk their dogs.
“When I open the door, I look to either side to make sure nothing is coming,” said Gilson.
Hartwig believes another attack could happen if they don’t move fast enough.
“Anybody who walks by that house or that home, goodness forbid those dogs get out. They’re going to get attacked,” he said.
The fate of the dogs will be decided at a hearing set for November.
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