Officer in dog shooting: 'He charged me. I had to shoot him.'

Published: Sep. 3, 2013 at 2:29 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2013 at 2:41 PM EDT
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Kenya, a 4-year-old German Shepherd Lab mix.
Kenya, a 4-year-old German Shepherd Lab mix.

IRMO, SC (WIS) - An Irmo family was shocked to come home to a note on their door explaining that a police officer had shot and killed their dog on Labor Day.

The police chief says the shooting was justified, but the family says the action was excessive and unnecessary.  

Four-year-old Kenya was a German Shepherd Lab mix. She's been known to roam her Irmo neighborhood from time to time. But her family says she's never gone far and never hurt anyone.

"She's probably gotten out about three or four times and usually a neighbor comes by [and says] 'Hey, your dog's in my yard,' and we go get her," said Kenya's owner Jared Mann. "It's never been a big deal."

When her family returned to their Charring Cross Road home after Labor Day fun, Kenya was not there.

"We found a note on the front door saying that our dog has been shot by Irmo PD," said Mann.
"We found the blood right after we found the note in our front yard."

Several neighbors say they heard gun shots.

"My husband and me were both talking to the police officers that were here," said the neighbor. "And the one who shot the dog said that she had charged him. But we had seen that dog before in our backyard and she's never shown any aggression ever."

Irmo Police say they received a call from a jogger who says Kenya chased this person down the street. When officers arrived, the dog was back on its property -- in the front yard, near the steps.

Mann says they've tried many different methods to restrain Kenya, including building a fence just for the dog and putting in an electrical fence as well. There's also a chair attached to the back steps, but somehow Kenya escaped.

Police say when one of the officers tried to go to the front door to find the owners, the dog charged at him. The officer says he felt threatened by the dog's aggressive behavior so he fired two shots at the dog.

"He charged me," said the officer in the incident report. "I had to shoot him."

"She was still moving 30 minutes later and I asked if I could take her to the vet and they said no," said a neighbor. "And that's when one of the police officers asked the other police officer to get a tarp and just covered her up."

Irmo Police deny that. The report goes on to say the officer fired a third and final shot to "end the dog's misery."

Family and neighbors do not understand why a gun had to be fired and why the officer killed Kenya.

"With the dog being that close to the house, if it was in the middle of the street, it'd be a little bit different I think. But the dog was on its own property so I felt he could have left the dog alone," said a neighbor.

In a statement provided by the jogger, he praises the officer's candor in regard to the incident.

"[He] seemed equally concerned about the dog as he was about the safety of the neighborhood. It was clear that he did not want anyone or the dog to get hurt. He seemed like a true professional in control of the situation," said the statement.

Irmo Police Chief Brian Buck says the officer acted in self-defense.

According to an Irmo ordinance, it is illegal for any domestic animal to run at large on the streets or in public places.

When asked if the officer could have tasered the dog instead of shooting it, Buck said the officer used the weapon he thought would guarantee his safety.

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