Monday, May 10, 2010

Officer Shoots, Kills Dog

Morgan Fogarty

Bella and her buddy got out of their fenced yard last Thursday while their owners were at dinner. Witnesses say the pit bulls ran down into another yard. A woman, fearful of the dogs, called for help. Concord Police responded and tried to catch the dogs for 42 minutes. One of the dogs, Jaxson, was easy to corral. But Bella proved to be more difficult. FOX Charlotte's Morgan Fogarty asked, "Was it snapping or charging?" Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Bryan Archer says, "From what I was told, yes it was.”

Archer works in the with animal control division of the Sheriff's Office. He says one of his deputies showed up to help Concord Police and spent 56 minutes trying to catch the dog. Archer says his deputy, Sean Austin, never witnessed the animal act aggressively toward adults or children nearby, but he chose to shoot and kill it. "We couldn't do anything with the dog, we had to finally make a decision,” says Archer.

Jeff Daniels, the owner of both Bella and Jaxson, says witnesses told him, "The animal control officer chased her in between two houses and shot her as she was running away." Daniels came home from dinner and realized his dog had been killed. He questioned Austin and recorded it on his iPhone. It's video the sheriff tells FOX Charlotte he wants to see. The video shows Daniels saying "But you said that she didn't show any aggression toward you, you know? You told me that. She didn't show any aggression...why can't you..." Austin is seen in the video saying, "I'm not sitting there for three hours when I got calls in!” Daniels then asks, "So what's your time limit? Is it 20 minutes? Is that what it is?"

One witness has also provided a written statement about Bella the dog, reading "At no time...did I ever feel that she was a danger or aggressive to any person out there."

Fogarty asked Archer, "What would you say to other pet owners who see this...and maybe worry, oh my God, if my dog gets loose and the officers can't catch it, they're gonna shoot it?" Archer responded, "We do everything we can do to keep from having to shoot one."

Daniels couldn't hold back his emotion when he said, “The law states that dogs are property, but my dog wasn't property. Not to me or my family. She was a part of my family.” He has retained an animal rights attorney in Raleigh. He is considering suing.

Animal control says prior to the shooting, it had never gotten a complaint or call about Bella. The department also says Deputy Austin couldn't have used a tranquilizer gun because he doesn't have the proper certification for that tool. Sheriff Brad Riley is looking into the deputy's actions.


Amie said...

I'm glad to see the media showing the human aggression towards this breed. Pits have gotten such a bad reputation. This story proves exactly what that reputation does to them. The dog was running away. A human criminal would never get shot in the back while running away. This officer should be punished to the fullest extent. As the one woman commented in the video, chances are this would've never happened if it were a cocker spaniel or lab. If you are on an animal control call, then you should be equipped for it. An officer licensed to use a tranq gun should've been dispatched, then this senseless tragedy could've been avoided all together.

Author said...

I am the publisher of Kody Connick's Wild Hearts book, and I must say I am sickened and saddened by this story. There are so many "what ifs" involved, but it is tragic that the poor dog had to lose her life over this senseless act. In Lincoln, they are passing a new "vicious dog" in which the "owners" are responsible for their animals whether they are Pits, Rotts, or Poodles. No dog is listed here as vicious, until it bites someone and then the owner is made to be responsible for his/her dog. It is too bad they didn't have such a law passed where this poor dog was shot an killed just because the officer considered her a threat or a nuisance animal. This whole perspective of Pits being killer dogs has spun way out of control.