A Florida Keys girl was being attacked by pit bulls. Her neighbor is getting a medal.

When his neighbor was in danger one day in 2018, Donald Lowrie raced right into the fight.

Now Lowrie, 50, is being celebrated as a national hero for rescuing the 8-year-old girl who was being attacked in her home by two pit bulls.

Lowrie is one of 17 people awarded the 2020 Carnegie medal, which recognizes people who have risked their lives trying to save others. He is the only recipient from Florida this year.

“I’ve got a daughter of my own,” Lowrie said. “You hear that scream. It just made me go into action. I went over there and did what I did.”

Originally from Ohio and a Keys resident for 10 years, Lowrie has worked for three years as a fleet management mechanic generator technician for Monroe County. In 2018 the county named him employee of the year.

Lowrie was bitten while fending off the dogs and has had three surgeries for an injury to his wrist.

He just found out he has to have partial wrist replacement.

Lowrie said he hopes the award sends a message to others: look out for your neighbors.

“If I hadn’t shown up when I did, there’s no doubt in my mind that girl would be dead,” Lowrie said. “I still see her today. She’s my neighbor. She’s happy and healthy.”

‘They came after me’

On May 6, 2018, Lowrie was at his condominium complex in Islamorada when he heard a girl screaming from a nearby home.

The girl was being severely wounded.

He followed the sound.

When Lowrie came in, the dogs chased him.

“I’m calling the girl’s name and walking inside the house,” Lowrie said. “Two pit bulls rip around the corner. They heard my voice. What I gather is they stopped the attack and came after me.”

Lowrie fell down a flight of stairs, shattering his wrist. One of the dogs — a male pit bull — bit him several times on his arms. The female pit bull mix was nearby and barking.

Lowrie held the attacking dog firmly by its collar until it stopped attacking him.

Both the girl and Lowrie were taken to the hospital with major injuries that required surgery.

The pit bulls had been in the home for about six months, Lowrie said. “These dogs didn’t grow up with the kids,” he said.

About the Carnegie Medal

Pittsburgh steelmaker Andrew Carnegie created the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in 1904. Since then, 10,185 Carnegie Medals have been awarded.

Lowrie joins three other Florida Keys Carnegie Medal heroes, according to the commission’s website.

They are:

  • Gertrude Bush, 16, who in 1915 attempted to save someone from drowning in Key West.

  • C. Raymond Shook, 52, who in 1970 died trying to save a fisherman who fell off an Islamorada bridge.

  • Patrick McGeough Jr., 26, of Key West, who in 2006 was honored for trying to save someone who was in a submerged car in Texas.