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Chief: Officer was 'legally justified' in shooting dog

Posted September 23, 2008

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— A Mount Olive police officer was “legally justified” in shooting a 45-pound Labrador retriever, according to a statement Tuesday from Police Chief Ralph Schroeder.

An officer shot 2-year-old Durham on Thursday after it charged at humans three times that afternoon, police said; uniformed officers witness two of those times,  Schroeder said.

Officers arrived after a neighbor called 911 to report the dog was in her yard and barking.

After the dog first charged at Officer D. Sasser, he called for backup. Police have withheld the name of a second officer who arrived.

The officers were trying to ensure the dog had returned to its owner’s property and was not a threat to the public, Schroeder said.

When the dog charged at the officers a second time, Sasser shot it. After seeing the shot was not immediately fatal, he fired a second shot so the “canine would not suffer,” Schroeder said.

“The facts available to the officers at the time of this incident show that their actions were legally justified,” Schroder said.

Following policy, the officers bagged the body and placed it by the city street. Public works was notified to pick it up.

Sasser has been placed on administrative duty while the dog' death is investigated. Schroeder said Sasser has been on the police force for about a year.

Prior to the incident, Schroeder said, neighbors had complained to the residents at Durham's home several times in the past six months.

“This is an unfortunate incident, and the officers of the Mount Olive Police Department are saddened that this animal had to be put down,” Schroeder said.

Colby Mangum, who owned 2-year-old Durham, said she has collected written statements from neighbors saying Durham was not vicious.

“He never showed any signs that he would be aggressive toward somebody or bite somebody. That just wasn't his personality at all. He just always wanted to play all the time,” Mangum said.

However, neighbor Bobbie Jean Dixon says this wasn't the first time police were called about Durham. She said Durham had chased her family before.

"He was a vicious dog, (and) frightened us and our children,” she said.

In a statement, Schroeder said officers had previously answered numerous calls in the area for the Lab and a Rottweiler.

Mangum questioned why animal control officers were not called first to pick up the animal, instead of the police.

As a result of this incident, Schroeder said changes are being made for dealing with animal complaints.

134 Comments

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  • piperchuck Sep 24, 2008

    "A 2 year old golden retriever is srill a puppy and will acr like a puppy!"

    First, it wasn't a golden retriever. Second, by 2 years old, a dog can still be playful, but it should be under the control of its owner, should not be allowed to wander the neighborhood, and should not be displaying aggressive behavior toward people. All these things are signs of a lack of responsibility on the part of the owner.

    "My daughter has has 2 golden retrievers in recent years. both would run and jump on you when I arrived at their home"

    Then your daughter needs to learn how to train her dogs. NO dog, let alone full size ones like goldens, should be jumping on a person when they arrive at a home.

  • lacroserocks Sep 24, 2008

    Why shoot the dog? Sit in your police car and call for animal control. And only on the force for a year? Still a newbie. Doesn't know what he's doing.

    Ya the dog should not have been loose, but why shoot a puppy, and then leave it on the side of the road. Animal cruelity?

    Think the cop is just a trigger happy mad man. Whats next, a Grandmother running at him to ask him a question? Is he going to shoot her too and then leave her on the side of the road?

  • fkhaywood Sep 24, 2008

    A 2 year old golden retriever is srill a puppy and will acr like a puppy! My daughter has has 2 golden retrievers in recent years. both would run and jump on you when I arrived at their home; they are just very playful, not vicious! Also, almost any dog can sense that you are afraid of them and may attack under those circumstances. I recommend that the officer take a course on how to handle a dog, sound like he needs additional training. My 15# 12 year old Pekinese will bark & growl any time a steanger appears in my yard, and would probably go ballistic if someone came up and pointed a gun at him.

  • ERRN Sep 24, 2008

    They put him in a bag and put it on the city street for pick up? That's terrible. They could have at least let the owner know so they could do what they want with him.

  • The Dude Sep 24, 2008

    You can't fire an officer because you think he should not have shot the dog. Agree or not, if the officer says that the dog lunged at him and showed his teeth he is justified. As a cop, I am probably not going to shoot a lab because I know labs well enough to know they are more likely to not be aggressive. But, I was not there. If the officer felt threatened, he has to stop the perceived threat. Pepper spray and Tasers are not very effective against animals. Every time a dog is shot, the owner screams that his unchained on the loose dog would never hurt a fly. Cops don't have the luxury or finding the owner before making sure a dog that is loose and acting aggressively as the officer and the witnesses state. If this dog had bitten someone while the officer stood by, these posts would be bashing the officer for not taking action. Police work is ugly and very un-PC, those who were not there should not judge this officer just because it was a Lab and you would've handled it diff.

  • piperchuck Sep 24, 2008

    "One more point animals sense fear. If an officer is afraid of the dog it will make the dog afraid."

    Yes, but some dogs become aggressive around other people regardless of whether they're afraid or not. The owner allowed the dog to roam free rather than keeping it under control. That's the real failure.

  • piperchuck Sep 24, 2008

    "Again...not sure the logic...so..if you let your dog out of your yard...it should be shot? Huh. What if you say, are speeding? Same rules?"

    No, but if you allow your dog to roam free and it builds a history of terrorizing the neighborhood, don't whine if it does get shot, run over, or disappears.

  • jlh4jdj Sep 23, 2008

    Builder03--Well put.
    Its funny many people on here just want to defend the LEO because "we don't know what cops go through". If you don't want to be a LEO then resign. I'm tired of that line every time a officer is wrong, LEO's are paid. I agree it is not a high salary. But they choose it.
    One more point animals sense fear. If an officer is afraid of the dog it will make the dog afraid. If this dog was around kids and did not bite them maybe the officer should think about that.
    A question for all the LEO's on here why is it that if I am accused of something wrong my name and address is published, if an officer is accused of something then the only way we find out the name is if the news gets a picture of a document.

  • Myword Sep 23, 2008

    Again...not sure the logic...so..if you let your dog out of your yard...it should be shot? Huh.
    What if you say, are speeding? Same rules?

  • ccacrabbitdog Sep 23, 2008

    no don't fire the officer....they should charge the owner for letting the dog run loose...i'm sure there is a leash law in the city......

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