Dog owners question action by Marshall police
A Marshall family seeks answers after an incident that resulted in Marshall Police killing their dog.
Family members and witnesses to the shooting say Marshall Police Sgt. Nathan Offield say they didn't think the dog needed to be shot.
Nine-year-old Joyce Riedel said she has had bad dreams since the July 9 shooting of the brown and white boxer named Paca.
"There were two shots," Joyce said. "I thought they shot my dog too."
After the incident, Joyce said she and a friend picked up the spent shotgun shells near where the grass was stained with the blood of the dog they occasionally played with.
"He was always friendly and playful," she said.
However, according to the police report, that is not the call police received when they were notified of an aggressive dog. Police responded to reports of an aggressive pit bull.
Joyce's mother Angela Riedel made the initial complaint.
"The dog was in back fighting with my dog," Riedel said.
Both Riedel and Joyce said they couldn't be sure the dogs weren't playing, but it seemed more aggressive and louder than what they thought was a normal level of play.
Riedel said some of the little kids she babysits were scared of the big dog.
"I didn't realize that dog was from around here," she said.
Just before the officers arrive, Paca had wandered from the back of Riedel's home to just outside the front door where it was barking at the kids on the other side of the screen door.
At this point in the story, witnesses to the incident and police tell different stories.
According to the police report, Offield and another officer arrived on scene to see Paca growling and barking as it chased a 15-year-old boy into the Riedel residence. The report makes it seem as if the boy narrowly escaped before turning to attack the police officers.
The boy "was able to make it into the front door of 623 E. Vest before the dog caught him," according to the report. "The dog then turned his attention to Sgt. Offield. The dog lunged at Sgt. Offield barking and growling. Sgt. Offield shot the dog with the shotgun assigned to his patrol vehicle."
Riedel said that isn't the way she thought it happened.
The boy arrived at her house and walked toward the dog when the police officers shouted at him to get in the house, Riedel said.
"They were getting out of their cars and yelled at (him) to get in the house," she said. "It lunged at (the boy) and the cops took that as a vicious lunge. I don't think they realized it was a playful lunge."
Riedel said the dog then turned and walked into the space between her house and house next door. It was there, roughly an even distance between the two houses, that the first shot was fired.
The first shot hit the dog in the butt/hindquarters region from behind according to descriptions by Riedel and the William Lucas, brother to Paca's owner. That shot occurred with the officer standing about 10 feet from Paca, between the street and the houses.
Lucas said he though officers shot the dog from behind due to the wounds. Marshall Police Chief Mike Donnell said he believe Lucas was mistaking entry and exit wounds.
"A lot of time people don't see the entry wound," he said. "They see the exit wound because that's where the blood is."
The geographical location of the second shot is disputed. Riedel was comforting children upset by the shooting and thought it took place near the same spot. However, when Lucas arrived on scene after the shooting, he said the dog's body was lying near the back of the houses.
"It looked like he was trying to come home," Lucas said. "They didn't need to kill him."
According to the police report, Offield shot the dog the second time because it was severely injured and appeared to be suffering.
After the shooting, Riedel said the Marshall animal control officer drove by.
"I don't know why they needed to kill the dog," she said. "I just thought animal control would pick him up until the family came and got him."
Lucas agreed. "If everybody was inside, like they said, there was no threat to anybody -- even if the dog was vicious. Why not let animal control handle it? Isn't that why we have them?"
Donnell said that once an animal has been deemed vicious, it doesn't stop being vicious because it was wounded.
"I don't want to be mean, but how do you pick up an aggressive wounded dog," he said. "It is still going to try to bite and fight you. A wounded animal is very dangerous."
"If shooting dogs is their policy, it needs to change," said Crystal Stephenson.
Donnell said he is looking into purchasing a specialized type of gun that fires a net.
"We don't want to go around shooting things," Donnell said. "At the time, the officer shot it because he deemed it a threat to himself and the public."
Donnell also said if someone's dog gets loose, they should call the police at 886-7411 so officers can be alerted.
"That way we can call you or get it back to you," he said.
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