ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Rick Dattoli knows he’s lucky. When the German Shepherd started gnawing at his leg, his first thought was, this is it.
“I was thinking I was going to bleed out and die right here on the side of 34th Street,” said Dattoli. “So I pinched it closed and put pressure and was going to use my sweatshirt as a tourniquet. “
The attack wasn’t random. In fact, St. Petersburg Police arrested the man who had control of the dog at the time. Investigators say 45-year-old Jason Varnadoe is now facing an aggravated battery charge after he used the dog as a weapon.
The incident happened in front of the Kenwood Village Inn at 701 34th Street North in St. Petersburg around 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Dattoli says the attack was over a $20 debt and when Dattoli told Varnadoe he hadn’t been paid that’s when Varnadoe became angry all while Varnadoe’s German Sheperd was on a leash at the time.
“He didn’t even let go of it. He was in my face yelling at me and lunging. And every time he would lunge the dog lunged,” said Dattoli. “So he was getting the dog worked up and worked up and I wasn’t even worried about what he was saying. I was worried about the dog.”
The dog grabbed Dattoli’s leg.
“There’s a gash about this long right here that was wide open and then one about 2/3rd’s that size right next to it and then multiple puncture wounds,” said Dattoli, who served in the U.S. Army as a medic in the 1970s. “They’re all lightly sutured so it can drain, so it can’t get infected.”
Varnadoe made his first appearance before a judge on Monday afternoon. The judge ordered that if he does post bond, he cannnot have any contact with Dattoli.
Deputies are holding him on a $5,000 bond but Dattoli is concerned Varnadoe won’t heed the judge’s warning.
“I am worried. I’m scared,” said Dattoli. “I’ve been watching over my back all day.”