Palm River, Florida -- 3-year-old Destiny McKenzie was bitten in the face by a 2 year old pit bull mix dog on Monday afternoon at the Palm Breeze Apartments located on Tommy Court in Palm River.
Monday evening McKenzie was listed in serious condition. She had to undergo surgery at Tampa General Hospital.
Investigators with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office say the owner of the pit bull, 41 year old Tanya Okeke, tied the dog up to a hand rail near her apartment and was preparing to give the dog named "Bear" a bath downstairs from her apartment.
Okeke says, "Nobody was out when I first brought him out here."
She says "Bear" weighs between 60 and 70 pounds. She says out of nowhere three little girls who live in the apartment complex appeared including little McKenzie.
Okeke says, "The little kids came over and I said move - they wouldn't listen so I'm steadily telling them to move, move, get away, get away. But when she came down the last stair she slipped down and fell on him. By falling on him that made him think she was trying to attack him and that's why he attacked her you know. He loves kids. He don't harm nobody - he's not a harmful dog."
She says she used her fists to beat "Bear" in hopes of getting the dog to release McKenzie from his jaws. It worked and she says the little girl ran home.
Some people who live in the apartment complex say this isn't the first time "Bear" has bitten someone.
John Crawford says, "This ain't the first time. He bit another resident here."
We asked Okeke about that. She says the incident involved one of her adult neighbors, "If he wanted to bite her he would have bit her. That was an accident."
Hillsborough County Animal Control has seized "Bear." Okeke says she's agreed to have the agency put her dog to sleep. She adds, "I was more concerned about the little girl than I was him you know even though I raised him from a pup. You know what can I do? I'm more worried about her than the dog."
Tammie Fields, 10 News