Irmo Town Council gets an earful after dog shot by police

tflach@thestate.comSeptember 17, 2013 

Irmo, SC

— Animal lovers aired concerns Tuesday about the Sept. 1 shooting of a dog by an Irmo policeman as town leaders stood by their conclusion that it was a tragic necessity.

Some residents urged more training for officers to deal with hostile animals while others want it made clear that shooting a menacing animal is a last resort.

The shooting is an overreaction, said Sara McCutchen of West Columbia, who described herself as a friend of the family who owned the dog.

Such skepticism is inappropriate second-guessing, Mayor Hardy King said.

“I can understand everyone’s concern, but the officer did nothing wrong,” he told a gathering of three dozen people.

Not everyone is satisfied. “I don’t mean to be combative, but there’s more questions than answers,” homeowner Paul Seay said in suggesting an independent review of the episode.

Killing the dog seems excessive, businessman Tony Rodgers said. “Maybe there was something else in the arsenal that could be used,” he said.

Police Chief Brian Buck again defended the shooting, saying officer Riley Null felt the unrestrained 40-pound dog charging at him was a threat personally as well as to others nearby.

Stopping a dog with a Taser isn’t reliable, he said.

Homeowner Jamie Alfaro suggested the focus be on making sure officers know how to cope with animals. “I don’t want any more finger-pointing,” she said. “I want to help.”

Town Council members shelved a proposal to transfer animal control service to a private company instead of staying with assistance provided by Lexington and Richland counties. The town straddles the border of the counties.

Councilman Barry A. Walker Sr. said the change probably would lead to quicker response.

But other town leaders say the idea seems costly and aren’t sure it is workable, asking Buck to review it and make a recommendation.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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