MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- The Curtis family had just missed the mailman on Monday.
13-year-old Justin Curtis got on his bike and rode to the end of the street, hopeful that he could give the postal worker an envelope that was holding a check for a child in need. As Justin reached the end of the street, he said, two Australian shepherds started chasing after him.
"They were coming pretty fast and I knew I couldn't out-ride them, so I just stood there and waited for them and hoped they were friendly," he recalled. "They came up and just dug their teeth into my right leg."
As the dogs bit Justin and dragged him to the ground, he tried using his bike as a shield while screaming for help. With few houses surrounding the area where it happened, his family feared he could have died.
"The [dogs] jumped on me over the bike, so I tried to run and that's when they got me behind my kneecap," he said.
A neighbor driving nearby heard Justin screaming, loaded him into his SUV, and rushed Justin to his family.
That neighbor, Justin said, probably saved his life.
He was taken to a local hospital, then transferred to All Children's Hospital because of the severity of his injuries.
When other residents heard the news, they tried to round up the dogs, which had apparently escaped through an open window while their owner wasn't home.
"They got a little aggressive with me. It's unfortunate. They're excitable, they're out of their house, they seemed disoriented," said neighbor Roy Levin, who was also lightly bitten by one of the dogs.
Justin was released from the hospital Tuesday morning, just in time to spend Christmas with his family. The longboard he got will have to wait until his injuries heal, but the greatest gift to him this holiday season is that he survived.
"I'm just glad it didn't happen to anybody else," Justin said. "[I'm] glad God was watching out for me."
The dogs are currently in the custody of Manatee County Animal Services.