Sheriff’s deputy shoots pit bull

He probably just wanted some water.

The owner of a supposedly vicious dog said her pit bull, Fabio, wouldn’t hurt anyone. If he was barking Tuesday after getting loose Monday, it was probably just because he was thirsty. The temperature climbed to 95 degrees that day, according to the National Weather Service.

That’s what dogs do when they are thirsty; they bark, said Jasmine Anderson, the dog’s owner.

Anderson, 27, said she was bathing Fabio Monday at her home on Vance Avenue when he ran after a wild turkey and disappeared, which is why he was without his collar. She said the two sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed her dog Tuesday afternoon acted rashly, firing on the animal prematurely.

“His tail was buried so far between his legs,” she said. “They don’t do that unless they are cowering.”

But Marshall County Sheriff Ted Kamatchus said the dog was a menace and that the two deputies responding to the call tried to subdue the dog before shooting it.

According to the Chief Deputy Burt Tecklenburg’s incident narrative, he responded to a call at 3125 200th St. that a dog there was acting aggressively, forcing the home’s residents to stay indoors out of fear that the dog would harm them. Upon arrival, Tecklenburg also found the dog behaving aggressively: barking, snapping at him and bearing its teeth. When, according to the report, the dog lunged at him, he hit it in the head with his baton causing it to flee. Tecklenburg and Deputy D.L. Dean, who shot a dog last year during a similar incident, were unable to find the animal after it fled.

Kamatchus said Fabio returned to the same address Tuesday, and another deputy responded to the call.

The dog met that deputy with similar aggression, according to his report. Believing the dog to be a stray and seeing no other way to detain it, the deputy asked Tecklenburg’s permission to fire on the dog, according to Tecklenburg and Deputy Adam Winkowitsch’s reports.

According to the reports, Winkowitsch shot the dog in the heart and lungs area from his car with his 9 mm, subduing it, then shot it again to put it out of its misery. Tecklenburg shot the dog three times to make sure it was dead. They dumped the Fabio’s body in a nearby ditch until the Animal Rescue League could come recover it.

“If a person is going to have animals you have a responsibility to ensure that animal doesn’t victimize citizens,” Kamatchus said.

However, Anderson said she believes the deputies targeted Fabio because of his breed. She said the deputies were too eager to use deadly force on the dog when they aren’t equipped to handle such situations. They didn’t even call the ARL before firing on the dog, she said. Now she has to explain to her children why they can no longer play with Fabio.

“If he was a lab or another type of dog, they wouldn’t have shot him,” Anderson said. “If a Taser can take down a 200-pound adult, it can take down a 52-pound dog. There is a nonlethal way to handle it.”

But both Tecklenburg and Winkowitsch’s reports indicate Tecklenburg called the ARL prior to the decision to shoot the dog.

Deputies carry pepper spray and batons but not stun guns.

Heidi Drager, director at the ARL, said the Marshall County Board of Supervisors contract with the ARL to handle stray animals. And while she regularly dispatches ARL employees to deal with situations prior to the board’s prompting, situations with aggressive animals take time to handle properly. The ARL’s 5-foot catch pole and traps were not an option, she said. By time the ARL would be able to get approval from a supervisor and get out to the location, the dog might have already harmed someone.

“There is no magic way to deal with an aggressive dog,” Drager said. “If it’s any animal that is posing a risk to people, you don’t have time to do those things It’s a challenge.”

Last year, Deputy Dean’s shooting of an English bulldog named Penny in Albion ignited public outrage. The dog’s owner, Lisa Hurd, began a petition online to draw attention to the issue. That incident was one of two dog shootings in 2012, according to police reports. Hurd’s petition had 1,727 or the 18,273 needed as of Friday afternoon.

According to a police report filed in September 2012, Jasmine’s husband, Chris, had Fabio out on Twinkle Hill Road when the dog attacked a passerby.

James Adams said his wife was walking by the dog when it bit her on the calf unprovoked. If his wife, Mia, had any inclination the dog was ready to attack, she would have run, he said. For weeks after the alleged attack she had nightmares about the dog.

“She won’t walk that direction anymore,” Adams said. “It traumatized her. This dog wasn’t innocent.”

Jasmine Anderson said she plans to hold a walk titled “Justice for Fabio” to raise money and awareness. Police need to have better training on how to deal with dogs, she said. If postal workers can managed to handle dogs without the use of deadly force, police should be able to manage it.

“They react in a violent way, in a hateful way. We aren’t in the Wild West anymore,” Anderson said. “They have a God superiority, and they think they are above the law.”

Any money raised during the walk would go to help fund programs to train deputies on how to deal with dogs at large.