SPRING HILL, Fla. — A woman walking her dog was critically injured when a pack of dogs that had gotten out attacked her, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said Friday. Two good Samaritans who tried to help were also sent to a hospital.

  • Sheriff: 4-5 dogs got out of home, attacked neighbor
  • Woman incurred critical injuries but expected to survive
  • Good Samaritans rushed to stop dogs from attacking her
  • More Hernando County stories

The incident occurred around noon outside a home on Mayflower Road in Spring Hill and involved four or five dogs, Nienhuis said during a news conference.

He said the dogs somehow got out of their home through a sliding glass door. They initially went after a small dog that was out with its owner. When the owner, described as a woman in her mid 60s, picked up the small dog to protect it, the dogs turned their attention to her, Sheriff's officials said.

Nienhuis identified two of the dogs involved as bull mastiffs and the others as "pit bull-type" dogs.

The woman was critically injured in the attack and transported to a trauma center.

Nienhuis said that at this time, the injuries are not thought to be life-threatening but could have serious long-term effects on the woman's quality of life.

"It did look like they were eating her alive"

Several neighborhood residents rushed over to try to stop the dog attack, which was still in progress when first responders arrived. Fire rescue personnel helped the residents get the dogs off the woman.

Two of those good Samaritans were themselves injured and transported to a hospital. Two or three others incurred minor injuries and refused medical treatment.

Kathy Gillespie, who lives on Mayflower Road, witnessed the attack, and her fiancé was one of the people who got bitten while trying to stop it. She said she'd never forget what she saw.

"It did look like they were eating her alive," she said.

“It’s so tragic," Gillespie added. "She’s such a sweet woman. She just moved into this neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine making my retirement in a home to have something like this happen.”

Fire rescue used equipment from their truck to disperse the dogs and stop the attack, according to the sheriff's office. No fire rescue personnel were injured while stopping the attack.

One of the bystanders who tried to stop the attack and was hurt was inside the home where the dogs got out, Nienhuis said. He said she was not the owner, and it was unclear whether deputies had made contact with the owner.

Animal enforcement officers eventually removed seven dogs from the home. It's believed four to five of the dogs removed were involved in the attack. The dogs were delivered to Hernando County Animal Services.

Had other people not intervened in the attack, the woman would not have survived, Nienhuis said.

“Who knows how long the attack would’ve gone on, and I think it would be extremely fair to say that she probably would have not survived," Nienhuis explained. "Because those dogs were that intent on doing that much damage with four or five people trying to get them off, they would not have stopped without intervention.” 

No identities have been released. An investigation is ongoing.