Police shoot dog; dog missing

Published 10:28 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Suffolk police officers shot and wounded a dog Tuesday night after the animal charged at them. After being shot, the dog ran away from police and has yet to be found.

Animal control officers were called to the 4400 block of Anderson Ave. on Tuesday night by residents who were concerned about dogs running loose in the neighborhood, according to Suffolk spokeswoman Debbie George.

When they arrived, the animal control officers were trapped in their vehicle by two dogs, a boxer and a black Labrador, which charged the vehicle every time officers attempted to leave the vehicle, she said.

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They soon called for police backup.

When police officers arrived on the scene, George said both animals “acted in an aggressive manner” to the officers. The police officers attempted to use their tasers on the dogs, but they were unsuccessful.

The dogs still kept charging at the officers, until officers shot at them, George said on Tuesday.

The boxer ran away and was not found until late Wednesday morning.

After being shot at the first time, the Labrador retriever, according to George, charged again at the officers. The officers than shot again at the dog, this time hitting the animal, which ran away to the nearby woods, limping.

Police officers and animal control officers could not find the dog Tuesday.

As of press time Wednesday, the dog has not been found.

The owners of the boxer was charged with allowing a dog to run at large. The owner of the missing lab, Tiffanie Garner, also was charged with allowing a dog to run at large, along with not having a city license for the animal, according to George.

George added that the officers acted well within their rights to shoot at the dogs.

“Officers do have the authority to euthanize an animal if they feel it is a danger to someone else or the officers themselves,” she said. “Every situation is handled on a case-by-case basis. If you have the time to use lesser force, you do that. A lot of times you don’t have time to go through that process.”

Phone calls to the dog’s owner’s residence were not returned, but friends of the family were outraged by police action.

Susan Wendt, a friend of the family, said the Labrador that was shot was a gentle dog that was adopted from the Virginia Beach Animal Control.

“My 3-year-old would sit on him,” Wendt said. “He was phenomenal. I do not see any reason why this dog could be labeled as a malicious dog. I’ve seen him run on my 25 aces of lane with horses, cows and chickens, and he has never tried anything. This is ridiculous.”