Owners outraged after Ogden officers shoot, kill dogs

Posted at 10:45 PM, Mar 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-12 14:33:44-04

Ogden Police shot and killed another homeowner's dog for the second time in March.

Homeowners are outraged but police say it was self-defense.

On Monday, an officer was declared justified in one incident while an investigation is underway into the second incident.

The most recent case occurred late Friday night when Michelle Merila called police to her home at 597 7th Street, reporting a burglary in progress.

When police arrived they didn't find a suspect but instead found Merila out front with her two bulldogs and a German shepherd named "Jesse."

"The officer indicated the two dogs on the porch did not indicate they were going to attack but the other dog, he actually gave voice commands to and told it to get back on the porch," said Ogden Deputy Director John Harvey. "The dog turned around, went a few steps then turned back to him and ultimately attacked and the officer defended himself."

Merila tells a different story.

"The cop was standing there and he says 'get your dog or I'm gonna shoot her' and and as I'm walking up 'boom, boom' he shot the dog, didn't have any reason, the dog wasn't going after him anymore, she had stopped," Merila said.

Ogden Police are now investigating whether that shooting was justified but the department's internal review board exonerated an officer who shot Dan Marocchi's German Shephard "Max" last week.

"When you have police investigating police, give me a break, cmon, what's gonna happen?," said Marocchi.

"You know you feel for people who have lost their animals," Harvey said, "but once again, the common denominator in both these incidents is the homeowner.  Had they restrained their animals they'd be alive."

Marocchi admits his dog slipped out the front door when police arrived investigating reports of a man with a gun.  Ogden cops say "Max" chased two officers, then lunged at one of them.  The Marocchis say that's not true and they don't believe lethal force was necessary.

"Instead of having guns ready, they should have had tasers ready, pepper spray, not bullets," said Roxanne Marocchi.

Police train on how to deal with aggressive animals and Ogden cops say the officers had tasers on them but when dealing with large dogs with thick fur, "tasers don't work all the time," Harvey said.

"You've got to have two darts in the animal before it will work."

Police officers are not required to carry tasers.  That's optional and requires training.  Meanwhile, the state's Fraternal Order of Police says there is no statewide law or policy instructing police on how to deal with pets.  It's a case-by-case basis and depends on whether the officer perceives a threat.

Police say the best way to avoid conflict with a dog is to secure your animal in another room before answering the door and talking with investigators.