Friday, March 23, 2012

Dog shot by Chincoteague officer

VIRGINIA -- A town police officer who shot and wounded a family dog that he felt was trying to attack him has come under fire by the dog's owner, who feels it was too severe a reaction.

"My question is why did the police officer use a gun and not his Mace, his Taser or his stick, or call animal control," said Amy McDonald, who was visiting her father on Chincoteague Island when the incident happened.

Chincoteague Police Chief Eddie Lewis said the dog, a pit bull just over a year old, was running at large with another of McDonald's dogs and had cornered a nearby resident and his son in a barn when police arrived.

The dog that was shot, named Bullet, and its brother "were coming down the lane and one of them growled" at the officer, Lewis said.

[So you've got two sexually mature, unneutered pit bulls running in a pack and on the loose and have people cornered on their own property...
“My question is why did the police officer use a gun and not his Mace, his Taser or his stick, or call animal control,” said McDonald.
The problem with mace is that it doesn't always work on animals - plus you risk blow-back from the spray getting in your own face and incapacitating you. The problem with a baton is that we have seen media reports of pit bulls beaten beaten with baseball bats, shovels, pick axes, crowbars, etc. and still not releasing the victims. The taser only works as long as you are actively tasering the animal - it will jump right up as soon as you stop tasering it. On top of all this, you have TWO AGGRESSIVE PIT BULLS. You can't effectively deal with both dogs at the same time as well as protecting the people who are cornered in the barn. The police officer made the right descision.]

"He never backed down," he said of the dog, which was not on McDonald's father's property at the time of the shooting.

"She claimed the dogs were playful and they well may be with her," Lewis said, adding the officer, Cpl. Kenneth Reese, "just didn't have a whole lot of time to react."

The gunshot hit the dog in the jaw and chest. McDonald and her 8-year-old daughter were driving around trying to find the dogs when they heard it about 150 yards away.

"We heard the dog yelp with the gunshot," she said. "The dogs were so scared, they ran all the way back to the house."

McDonald took the injured animal to a Maryland animal hospital. With its jaw injury, it must eat watered-down food and wear a muzzle around its face. It will take as much as eight weeks to heal, she said, and she has incurred $1,000 in vet bills.

McDonald was issued two police tickets for having her dogs illegally running at large -- the town has a leash law. She will appear in Accomack General District Court to face the charges at 2 p.m. on April 24.

She said the dogs wouldn't have hurt the officer.

"They're the biggest sissies you've ever seen in your life," she said of the animals.

Her daughter, she said, has been upset about the incident.

"She's traumatized," McDonald said. "She says she keeps hearing the sound of the shot go off in her head. She says she doesn't want to let the dogs go outside."

Lewis cited dog incidents in recent years on Chincoteague, including the mauling of a prominent public official's granddaughter.

"He's aware of what damage a pit bull will do if they get ahold of you," Lewis said of the officer.

He added, "We don't make it a policy that we go out and shoot dogs. It's a terrible thing. I am an animal lover, too."

(Delmarva - Mar. 23, 2012)