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Cops: Dog shot in face by car thieves, pup struggling to survive

WFLA - DOVER, Fla. (WFLA) – Jim Ryans experienced a roller coaster of emotions Thursday afternoon.  He couldn't believe what happened.

The Dover resident was angry, stunned and broken-hearted. 

Jim was doing yard work at his home on Blackjack Road. By his side was Roscoe, a 3-year-old Boxer mix.

Jim and his pup were both taken by surprise when two strangers showed up on his street. The complete strangers ran through the yard which got Roscoe's attention – fast.

That's when Hillsborough deputies say the men shot the pup in the face and kept running.

"Couple of young guys came running through and shot my dog in the head. I don't know where they came from," Jim said.

With tears in his eyes and still in shock, the Dover dog owner shared his story, still shaken by what he witnessed.

"I'm overwhelmed by it all. I couldn't believe it happened like that," he said.

Sadly, Roscoe was left in severe pain.

"He's bleeding pretty bad through the nose. He could hardly breathe. Every breath sounded like he was growling, but it was really just blood coming from his nose and mouth. It was bad," said Jim. "I wasn't going to let them get away with it."

Jim didn't think twice. He quickly jumped into action. He did what he says what most dog owners would do.

"I chased them down through the swamp back here. I wasn't going to let them get away," he explained.

His actions, while noble and heroic, according to his girlfriend, made her panic.

"My boyfriend didn't have a gun, and these guys got guns. I was like, ‘Jim!' I was scared for Jim. I kept screaming at him. I didn't hear him out in the woods," said Nancy Downing.

While Jim chased the bad guys, his girlfriend called the good guys.

Deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrived in an instant to help the Dover dog owner and his canine in crisis.

Deputies brought their own K9 crew. In the end, you could say one pup saved another.

According to detectives, Thomas Nolasco and Jonathan Lozada were fleeing from law enforcement after stealing a car.  They remain in jail Thursday night and will most likely face a judge Friday morning.

As for Roscoe, he is fighting for his life and being treated at the Pet Resource Center.

Family and friends are sending prayers to man's best friend for a speedy recovery.

"We're not sure he's doing to make it," said Jim. "The neighborhood is a little crazy sometimes, but I've never seen something like that happen. I wasn't going to let them get away with it."


Mobile County

Baldwin County

Northwest Florida