Police shoot dogs
Two North Lawrence residents are puzzled about what led Lawrence police officers to shoot their dogs who were loose in the neighborhood.
Both said the dogs didn't have a history of violence.
But on Wednesday afternoon, police said the animals were aggressive and an officer shot the dogs to protect a nearby 10-year-old boy and himself.
Kathy Coffey's family dog, Sid, a Labrador-hound mix, was killed while her neighbor Sean O'Neal's dog, Dice, a pit bull-boxer mix, sustained an injury that led to the amputation of a front leg. Neither owner was home at the time of the shootings.
"Certainly, the choice the officer made was correct to stop the aggression of the dog," said Sgt. Paul Fellers. The name of the officer who shot the dogs was not available.
The dogs were on the loose shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday in the 400 block of North Third Street, and animal control officers were called.
According to police, animal control officers were unable to bring the dogs under control using restraint poles - long metal poles with a loop around the end.
A police officer was called to the scene to assist an hour later. The officer reported that Dice aggressively approached the officer before backing off.
While the officer spoke with animal control, both Dice and Sid approached while showing their teeth and growling, according to a police report.
At that point, Charlie Backus, a 10-year-old boy who lives nearby, approached the scene on a bicycle.
The officer placed himself between Dice and Backus and told Backus to return home.
The police report states that Backus fell off his bicycle and Dice began approaching. The officer pointed a gun at the dog, who retreated. Soon after, Dice ran toward the boy, at which point the officer shot and wounded the dog, causing it to run underneath Coffey's front porch.
At that point, the officer reported that Sid approached in an aggressive manner, causing the officer to shoot Sid from about 10 feet away.
Coffey said she doesn't blame the officer for shooting the dog, but questioned his method.
"What I want to know is why did an officer use a shotgun? Why were there not any tranquilizer guns being used?" she said. "I felt that would have been more humane for the animals."
Fellers said police and animal control don't have a chemical immobilization gun. He said one has been on order for at least a month.
Nevertheless, Fellers said such a gun likely would have been ineffective in a situation where a dog charged at an officer because the chemicals don't act quickly enough.
Maggie Backus, whose son Charlie was nearby when the shooting occurred, said Charlie was familiar with Dice.
Charlie, she said, didn't believe he was in danger when Dice approached him shortly before the police officer shot the dog.
Nevertheless, she said she thought the officer made the right choice.
"It's just frustrating that the dogs were out and all this had to happen," she said.
Blackjack, O'Neal's other dog, stayed behind the fence and barked at police during most of the incident. It is at the Lawrence Humane Society where it's being evaluated for its aggressiveness.
O'Neal could face a hearing in Municipal Court about his dogs.
Jerry Little, city prosecutor, said he hasn't yet reviewed the report, but will soon determine whether charges will be filed.