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Neighbor rescues man and dogs from attacking pit bulls

Originally ran here as:
Man guns down attacking pit bulls
By ERICH SEAN-PAUL SPIVEY
Special to The Gainesville Sun
Thursday, August 7, 2001

John Woods was brushing his teeth, getting ready for church Sunday morning. He had been absent from Trinity United Methodist Church for two months and was determined to get back into the churchgoing ritual.

After undergoing surgery from a pit bull attack on NW 45th Avenue in Gainesville on Sunday morning, John Sabatella and his Australian shepherd, Nicki, rested at home on Monday. "It was horrible," said Sabatella, who also suffered severe injuries to his ring finger on his left hand, his arms and legs. MARLA BROSE/The Gainesville Sun

But his anticipated return had to wait another week as church took a backseat to helping neighbor John Sabatella and his dogs, who were being attacked by two stray pit bulls.

With three shots from a .357-caliber Magnum revolver, Woods shot and killed the attacking dogs.

"My neighbor came crashing through the door and said, 'Two pit bulls are killing my husband and my dog,' " Woods, 72, said Monday. "I loaded my pistol and shot one dog in the shoulder. It probably hit his heart.

"Thank God I hadn't left for church yet."

With his wife, Vicki, jogging next to him, Sabatella was riding a bicycle with his dog on a leash when the pit bulls attacked his dog about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Sabatella tried to break up the dog fight and then the pit bulls began attacking him. Sabatella said he suffered severe injuries to his ring finger on his left hand, his arms and legs.

Vicki ran into Woods' house asking for help. Woods called 911 before shooting the dogs.

"The brutality of the attack was totally unexpected," Sabatella said. "The bite felt like a vice grip with teeth."

"He is in a lot of pain," said Ruth Sabatella, John's mother. "Once those pit bulls get going, they don't stop."

The attack occurred in Woods' front yard at 3039 NW 45th Ave. in the Northwood neighborhood.

Woods fired one bullet and killed the first pit bull, which was attacking Sabatella's male Australian shepherd. The second pit bull was shot twice while running toward Woods. About 12 people were in the immediate shooting area.

Before Woods killed the dogs, motorist Andrew Serfozo tried to fight the pit bulls away with a fire extinguisher to no avail.

"It was a helpless scenario until (Woods) came," Sabatella said.

Gainesville Police Department spokesman Keith Kameg said no charges are pending. According to the police report, Woods' action saved Sabatella from serious injury or death.

The pit bulls were not wearing identification tags and weighed about 60 pounds each, according to Alachua County Animal Services field operations Supervisor Cindy Bishop.

Woods said another neighbor stopped by just before the attack wanting to call animal control about two similar pit bulls. But an unidentified person showed up and put the dogs in his white van.

After the complaining neighbor left the area, Woods said he saw the man let the two dogs loose. Woods said he believed the same pit bulls attacked Sabatella a few minutes later.

Bishop said Animal Services is trying to find the owner of the pit bulls. The carcases were transported to a Tallahassee laboratory for rabies testing.

The chance Sabatella caught rabies is small, Bishop said, but testing is normal procedure. The results will be available by the end of this week.

But for now, Sabatella was thankful Woods was equipped to handle the attacking pit bulls.

Woods said, "I don't envision myself as the community watchdog. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I'll let my son handle security. He works part time as a security guard in Alabama."

And Woods said he doesn't deserve the hero tag next to his name.

"I didn't wake up Sunday morning and say today will be a good day to be a hero," he said. "You just do what you have to do."


NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed, without profit, for research or educational purposes. We do our best, as well, to give credit to the original news source who published these Guns Save Lives stories out of respect and appreciation for their willingness to spread the word that Guns Save Lives -- and when an original link is available, we ALWAYS send all our visitors to read the original article on the original site where it was posted. God Bless the Americans that publish these stories - for assisting Americans in hearing the truth about guns saving lives.

 

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