Irmo police defend killing dog

tflach@thestate.comSeptember 4, 2013 

Irmo, SC

— The Labor Day shooting of an unrestrained dog in Irmo was self-defense for the officer, Police Chief Brian Buck said Wednesday.

Town leaders characterized the killing as regrettable but necessary, amid complaints from animal lovers as well as the family with whom the pet lived.

“I believe the officer acted in self-defense and in defense of the neighborhood,” Buck said. “It was something he had to do.”

The family who owned the dog, named Kenya, is angry.

“We’re very upset,” Jared Mann said. ”She was like a family member.”

His mother, Karen Counts, faces a fine of up to nearly $1,100 from Richland County officials for letting the dog roam, police said.

READ THE INCIDENT REPORT.

Mann said the 4-year-old dog often got out of the fenced yard despite family efforts to prevent it. He declined to say more about the incident, pending the outcome of his mother’s upcoming court hearing.

The shooting happened after police were called to the Old Friarsgate neighborhood Monday by a jogger who said the dog chased him and seemed dangerous, a police report says.

The unidentified jogger said the dog — described as a German shepherd mix weighing at least 40 pounds — “came at me aggressively,” growling and barking, according to a statement given to police.

Officer L.R. Null reported the dog chased his patrol car when he arrived and paced across front yards in the 400 block of Charing Cross Road.

Animal control officers were called but did not arrive before the shooting, police said.

When the dog went behind a fence at a home, Null said he went to contact the family there when the dog returned in a hostile manner.

The dog ignored commands from Null and started running at him “in a threatening manner,” prompting the officer to shoot him twice, the report said.

With permission of his supervisor, Null shot the animal once more a few minutes later “to end the dog’s misery,” the report said.

Mann’s family was at the holiday festival in nearby Chapin when the incident occurred, Mann said.

Buck said Null, an officer for a few years, is distraught.

“He’s upset,” Buck said. “He knows dogs. He’s a dog lover.”

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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