Thursday, June 30, 2016

Vermont: Off-duty officer shoots pit bull in dog park after attack

VERMONT -- On Saturday, June 25, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Hartford Police were dispatched to a report of a dogfight in the off-leash area of Watson Upper Valley Dog Park in Hartford Village.

Witnesses reported that an off-duty police officer had shot and killed a pit bull that had attacked his dog at the park, reported Hartford Police Chief Phillip Kasten in a news release.

Hartford Police Officer Logan Scelza, a four-year veteran of the department, was off-duty and exercising his pet Husky at the dog park when it was reportedly bitten in the throat by a pit bull, Chief Kasten reported.

[The pit bull owner] acknowledged Diesel “had (the red husky) by the neck.” Gray said Scelza ran over, tried to pull the dogs apart before firing three “warning” shots into the ground and then shooting Diesel four times — once in the face and three times in the chest.

“To ensure a fair and impartial process, I have requested this matter be investigated by the Vermont State Police,” Kasten wrote on Facebook, Sunday. “I call on everyone, my staff and our community to both cooperate and fully support these investigative efforts. It is critical to be patient and not speculate or jump to conclusions…While this is undoubtedly an emotional situation, it is important these emotions do not provoke rash judgment or hurtful actions based on one person’s profession, or the breeds of those dogs involved.”

Chief Kasten also addressed town residents and guests, saying “our parks remain a safe place for you and your family when park rules and etiquette are followed… Park visitors are reminded to keep their dogs leashed, or in off-leash areas, in sight and under control at all times. Dog owners or guardians are responsible to leash their dogs at the first sign of aggression.”

“Personally, and on behalf of the men and women of the Hartford Police Department, I offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of both dogs involved in yesterday’s fight at the Watson Upper Valley Dog Park in Hartford Village,” Kasten continued. “Both families, those praying on a speedy recovery for their family pet, and those grieving the loss of a member of their family are in our hearts, mind and prayers today.”

Anyone with information that is pertinent to this investigation is asked to contact Detective Trooper Mike Notte of the Vermont State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation at, or 802-773-9101.

(Mountaintimes - June 30, 2016)

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