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Sheriff: Dog shooting was justified

Published 7:06pm Monday, December 27, 2010

Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis said it appears one of his deputies was justified in shooting and killing a dog on Dec. 23.

Davis said an investigation—which is mandatory whenever a deputy uses physical force—is ongoing but Officer David Moses said the dog posed an immediate threat to him after he was called to the scene about the animal killing a neighbor’s livestock.

“From what I know right now, it appears to me the deputy was justified in what he did,” Davis said.
The dog’s owner, Sandra Gray, could not be reached for comment, but Tom Cuthbert, owner of property leased by Gray, disputed the Sheriff’s Department account.

“He said the dog was not attacking anybody,” Cuthbert said about Moses. “I said, ‘Was it attacking any animals,’ and he said no.”

Cuthbert serves as vice president of the Chilton County Humane Society, and the dog, “Sassy,” was adopted from the shelter.

Cuthbert did not witness the shooting but arrived at the scene afterward and said he was told by Gray that her dog was not acting viciously.

Davis said his department received many complaints from neighbors about the dog, and deputies made several visits to the area, at the intersection of Highway 31 and County Road 24 in a community known as Cooper.

Moses shot the dog on his second visit on Dec. 23. According to Davis, Moses said he arrived at the area to find the dog attacking chickens belonging to a neighbor. Moses said he shouted at the dog in an attempt to stop the attack, but then the dog threateningly approached Moses.

“The deputy felt like he didn’t have any choice at that time,” Davis said.

Davis said his department’s internal investigation would include input from Gray and her neighbors.

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  • Rickey

    The law does indeed read, in part, that the statute regarding cruelty ro animals does not apply to “Any owner of a dog or cat who euthanizes the dog or cat for humane purposes”. I apparently mistook you comment that “shoot to kill” meant that one could kill their own dog simply because it was theirs. I sincerely apologize if I misinterpreted your comment.
    I still subscribe to the point of view that responsibility for an animal on the loose lies with the owner of the pet. No, we don’t have laws requiring us to be responsible, but a truely responsible person does not necessarily need a law. Although laws would definately help, all the laws in the law isn’t going to make someone responsible.
    Here’s a question for you: If the pet owner can prove that the deputy broke the law and then lied to cover himself, can the owner sue?

    (Report comment)

  • xXx

    Rickey –
    Have a look at 13A-11-246 in the Alabama State Code. Euthanasia is defined as an easy or painless death.

    I never said anyone didn’t do their job. I stated that the dog is dead because the deputy didn’t want to do his job properly.

    Could this have been avoided? Absolutely. But in a county with no confinement laws who are you to say that the owner of the dog didn’t do his or her job? That’s not the issue. The issue is that a deputy has blatantly broken the law, then changed his story after the fact to cover himself.

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  • Rickey

    xXx –
    I’d be verey interested in knowing the specifc Alabama law that allows a dog owner to kill his or her own animal so long as “it is done humanely.” ‘Shoot to kill’ IS NOT a humane method of of taking the life of an animal. I suspect that your knowledge regarding Alabama State Law might be a bit lacking, but if you can prove me wrong with absolute specifics, then I will stand corrected, and will have learned something. And I’ll even apologize for having doubted you.
    A dog is not dead because an officer didn’t do his job! A dog is dead because an irresponsible dog owner didn’t do his/her job!!

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  • xXx

    Shooting your own dog in the State of Alabama is perfectly legal as long as it’s done humanely, meaning you shoot to kill. Shooting a dog that belongs to someone else is an entirely different story. Whether it be a stray or a neighbors dog the rules are the same. If it’s not in the process of attacking you or one of your animals, shooting it is against the law. There are many deputies who will advise citizens that if an unwanted dog comes onto their property that they can “just shoot it”. Now we have a deputy that has done just that. He told several people after the shooting occurred that the dog was not posing a threat to anyone or anything and apparently had some time to reflect on what happened and look up the law he had just broken. Since that time the story has changed a lot. Now apparently he has fabricated some chickens into the story that the dog was attacking when he arrived despite the fact that there are no chickens in the area where the shooting took place. Apparently his parents didn’t instill the practice of “think before you speak” like mine did with me. Or perhaps his time with the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department has replaced the moral judgement with something along the lines of “Act first, adjust stories as needed later”.

    Someone lost their pet because a deputy didn’t want to do his job properly, that’s sad however things went down.

    Even sadder is the fact that the County Commission is aware that there is a problem with animals running at large in Chilton County. Confinement laws are in place that merely need be adopted by each county in the state. Of course this also means that an animal control officer would need to be appointed. I’m no expert on County resources, but I see lots of deputies on a daily basis in areas that are patrolled by other municipalities. Perhaps a deputy who is already staffed by Chilton County could assume the position. APOST certification would certainly be a bonus in such a position when it comes to animal cruelty concerns.

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  • Rickey

    Blame ANYBODY you want to … whatever makes you feel good. But the bottom line is that ALL of this could have been avoided had the pet owner been responsible!Unfortunately, irresponsibility does come 2 days before Christmas and it is these same people who will continue to be irresponsible 2 days after Easter, 4 days before Halloween, 3 1/2 days during Lent, and the whole darn week of Mardi Gras! Get my point? Irresponsibility knows no holiday … and it costs!
    The officer was justified!

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  • TOMC

    I wonder in which world several of you live, were 3 wrongs make a right. The officer told at least 6 different people immediately after the shooting that the dog was not menacing anyone. As to the dog attacking chickens there are no chickens in the area. The officer changed his story after he found out how wrong his actions were.

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  • cocoa1

    I just feel for the kids that had to find out that their dog was shot by one of our finest 2 days before Christmas. Way to go!!

    (Report comment)

  • mack13

    Living in the Lomax area, I see dogs wandering past my house daily. Some of ‘em leave “presents” in the wife’s rose garden or elsewhere in the yard. I try to shoo ‘em away, but that doesn’t always work. It’s usually the same dogs. The wife and I have 3 dogs and 1 cat. None of them goes outside unattended. They are either in the fenced back yard, or on a leash when out front. I guess we are what you would call responsible pet owners.

    The basic problem with pets allowed to wander around is that they can get into mischief as cited in this story. They are animals and have their own instincts. I also have to wander if their owners have them up to date on the required rabies shots, heart worm medicine, and the like… probably not.

    The deputy here, overreacted, in my opinion. The dog’s owner should provide restitution to the owner of the chickens (the dog didn’t just let himself out.) The deputy needs to get equipment such as pepper spray and a good taser. That dog should not have been shot by him.
    If it were my chickens, the dog’s owner would be in deep stew with me…. not the dog.

    just my .02

    mack

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    • Katherine Reece

      We picked up a puppy that was abandoned last June, this past Monday we picked up another puppy (same breed!) in the same spot. The puppy couldn’t have been on the road longer than a day since the weather was so cold at night and we have coyotes and fox in the area.

      This puppy had enough worms for five pups according to Doc Cox, which means that whoever is tossing these puppies away also isn’t taking care of the parents. The mother has to be loaded with worms for the puppy to have that many.

      People who don’t care for their dogs drive me crazy, my two boys are house boys and when they go outside they’re on a leash.

      (Report comment)

  • katok

    We definitely need leash laws and confinement laws yes, but I must ask, can any of you read? The officer clearly stated that “the dog was not attacking anybody” and he also states that it was not at the time attacking any animals. Why shoot it instead of taking it to the shelter, where it could be humanely euthanized? That is absolutely not proper protocol!

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  • jeralyn4313

    I agree it was the owners place to make sure the dog was secure. After all a dog is an animal and has animal instincts and one of these is to kill and eat. And chickens flapping will draw even the tamest dog to them. Also dogs are protective of their area and food. I do not know all the circumstances but would think the deputy did not just pull his gun to shoot the animal for no reason. I love animals but if I felt threatened I would not hesitate to kill one. And it is sad that a dog had to die because the owner was not responsible. You cannot just let a dog run loose period. Not if you care for the dog or your neighbors.

    (Report comment)

  • teresa21

    the county needs laws if you own a vecious dog you should be held responsible for that dogs actions my baby of 6 years only weighed 4lbs was ripped apart on my front porch by my neighbors 2 pit bulls but i was told theres nothing you can do well they better hope they dont cross my yard that could have ben my granbaby standing on MY FRONT PORCH if your gonna own a dog be responsible for that dog

    (Report comment)

  • Rickey

    A wonderful dog is gone because of an irresponsible pet owner. And apparently one with a history of irresponsibility. Some people will just never learn! Laws would certainly help, but one doesn’t really need a law in order to be responsible. The officer had only to “feel” threatened by the dog and apparently he did. He took the only action available to him at the time. Blame is not with what the officer DID … it is with what the dog owner DID NOT DO … ensure that their pet is of no threat to anybody at any time.

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  • DarrylBice

    I agree about the need for animal control laws. It sounds like the owner’s lack of responsibilty was the largest cause for this animals death. I do regret that the animal’s death was the result. All dogs are animals and can be aggressive to other animals and people. Any responsible pet owner would take steps to protect the animal as well as other animals and people. There are people in our neighborhood that allow their animals to run free. I had to build a fence around my backyard for my children to play in safely. I do not understand why our county/city government fails to see this as a problem.

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  • TOMC

    we need leash and confinement laws in the county as well as a dedicated animal control officer, Then maybe this sort of thing would not happen. But all of you miss the point the officer changed his story to fit the law after shooting with no provication. The dog was shot 1st behind the forleg, and the 2nd time in the back of the head. the officer was not being attacked.

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  • evileyejoe

    A couple of years ago before we moved we had a neighbors large dog come into our yard and attack one of our poodles. I went and confronted the neighbor about it and he wanted proof and then had the audacity to offer to bring his dog in my yard to see what it would do. I asked him to keep it in a fence or chained up but he refused so I let him know if I got the chance and saw his dog in my yard again I would shoot it. He of course then said we would have problems if that happened but that didn’t bother me as I knew I would have a right to protect what is mine.

    Keep your dogs in a fence on a chain or leash. Thank you much!

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  • ironpaw

    “The deputy felt as if he didn’t have a choice”

    Why can’t we have a few neighborly laws like not allowing dogs to run at large? This would benefit the property owners, the livestock and dogs. Citations can be issued to the owners for not abiding by the law.

    Shooting a dog is unnecessary in this day and time when there are more humane solutions.

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  • cocoa1

    Sorry to hear about this. That was a beautiful dog. Makes you wonder if it wasn’t shot because the kind of dog it was, not what it had done!!

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  • 1oldman

    It would appear to me that the county needs to adopt some of the animal complaint laws so a person wouldn’t have to keep calling the deputies out to protect ones livestock and keep the peace in the neighborhoods. Dogs should not be free to run the neighborhood, as we have done in the old days, but now we need laws to require fences and noise/barking kept under control. Now the dog has the protection and the citizens have none.

    (Report comment)

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