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St. George residents seek answers after officer shoots dog

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Posted at 10:08 PM, Sep 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-04 00:28:04-04

ST. GEORGE - Police are investigating after an officer shot a dog early Sunday morning. Police say they were called to the neighborhood because several dogs were roaming the street.

“I woke up to three gun shots,” said the dog owner's daughter-in-law, Chelsea Chiaccheria. “I went into our kitchen, and there was blood everywhere, I walked into my mother-in-law’s bedroom and our dog, Loki, was on her bed bleeding to death.”

Chiaccheria said they had no idea their dogs were loose, or that officers were at their house, until they got a call from police. Loki had several gunshot wounds to his face, paw and legs. Police and neighbors say four dogs were out roaming the neighborhood. When an officer approached a vehicle to try and find the dog’s owner, the dog poised to attack.

“The dog came at him very aggressively,” said St. George Police Sergeant Sam Despain.  “He felt that he had no other choice but to use his handgun to attempt to stop the dog from biting him.”

Loki never did bite the officer and Chiacchiera says he wouldn’t have.  They believe the officer misread the dog's physical cues, and now they’re dealing with the consequences.

“The most that I could think of any of our dogs doing is barking,” says Chiacchiera. “Because he was walking around our vehicles. Any animal, seeing an intruder, is going to bark.”

But neighbors aren’t surprised by what happened, saying there’s a history of aggression.

“We’ve had other neighbors walking down the sidewalk to try and go home and had to avoid the house,” says neighbor Kyle Crosby. “Or the street completely that they live on because the dogs are out, running in packs.”

Animal control officers actually took five dogs into custody. City ordinance only allows homeowners to have two dogs living in a home, the family had eight dogs there.

“There’s codes and regulations for a reason,” said neighbor Hope Clyde. “And if they’re followed, then that’s how we all co-exist just fine.”

Chiacchiera says they’re still in shock over what happened, and says regardless the circumstance; they can’t believe the situation would warrant shooting the dog.

“I don’t know how someone could to that to an animal,” Chiacchiera said. “It’s appalling.”

An internal investigation is underway to determine if the shooting was warranted. Despain says so far, they believe it was. Loki is expected to recover from his injuries, but will require surgery. Police are also investigating whether any formal charges will come against the dog owner.