A Cleveland family has been left devastated after an officer shot and killed their beloved one-year-old golden retriever as he was on a leash in the family’s backyard.
Cleveland police told the family the officer felt threatened by the dog after the dog barked, even though the officer was aware it was leashed.
The incident took place Friday when dog owner Tyler Muzzi saw a stranger walking around his neighbor’s home. Muzzi contacted his neighbor and then called police to check on the situation.
Minutes later, police arrived and arrested the man who had by that time broken into the house. The situation seemed under control and without incident until Muzzi heard gunshots.
“At first, I thought I had heard only two shots, but there were actually three that had been fired,” Muzzi told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. “I thought they had shot the man in custody or something.”
Muzzi opened his front door to see what was going on, which was when an officer told him that his dog had been shot and that he needed to go check on it.
He found his pet, Miller, with his spine severed in two places after being shot three times, despite having put him on a leash prior to the officers arriving.
Officers stood around silently as Muzzi wrapped his daughter’s beloved pet in a towel and called a vet, but eventually called animal control to help get Miller to the emergency clinic. Miller died shortly after.
The officers involved have apologized to Muzzi, and initially claimed that they did not see the leash.
The story has since changed however and Police Chief Charles Bingham told the man that the officers did see the leash, but were within their rights to shoot him as they “felt threatened.”
A video recording of the incident, which has not been released to the public, but was shown to Muzzi, reportedly did not capture the shooting. You can only hear the dog barking and four seconds later, shots fired.
The department has offered to pay the veterinarian bills and buy a new dog for the family, which Muzzi told the Clarion-Ledger felt like “a slap in the face.”
Muzzi’s five-year-old daughter Emma has reportedly been sleeping with a clay statue of a dog resembling Miller, and bringing it food and water.
“My wife and I have been really upset about it. Just heartbroken. But Emma’s been really strong.” Muzzi stated.
The cop who killed Miller is currently on administrative leave.
According to an unofficial count done by an independent research group, Ozymandias Media, law enforcement in the United States shoots a dog every 98 minutes. Postal workers who encounter dogs all day long, don’t seem to have any issues.