Family upset after pit bull shot by Ogden police near car with kids inside; dog was later euthanized

Posted at 9:27 PM, Mar 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-08 19:40:56-04

OGDEN, Utah – Police officers in Ogden shot a dog after responding to a call at a home Saturday night, and officers said the dog had jumped at one of the officers and then continued to go for police even after being shot once; the pit bull suffered a shattered shoulder and was euthanized.

Lt. Jake Sube with the Ogden Police Department said that officers were dispatched to a home in the area of 165 17th Street around 8 p.m. Police did not specify the nature of the call but said the investigation was not related to the incident with the animal.

Sube said that as the officers were preparing to leave the residence, a dog came running out of a door and jumped at one of the three officers who were in front of the home. Lt. Will Cragun, Ogden Police Department, said the dog came out of the front door.

“Somehow, a dog was able to exit the residence and lunged at one of the officers, actually pinning the officer against a telephone pole, at which time the second officer engaged the dog with lethal gun fire," he said. "...The dog redirected itself towards the second officer, who attempted to Tase the dog. The Taser was ineffective, at which time the officer that first engaged the dog again reengaged the dog and the attack on the officers was halted, after which the dog fled the area."

Anthony Cano owns the dog, who he said was a loving pit bull named Payaso, which means "clown" in Spanish--a name he said was well-earned by the dog. Cano said the dog jumped up on one of the officers, but he said it wasn't an attack.

"My dog just happened to come out, but he didn’t charge at him, he didn’t go after ankles or nothing like that, he just went up and just jumped him like a happy dog does," he said.

But that perspective differs from the one offered by police. Cragun said the dog jumped up and had basically pinned the officer against a telephone pole, and that the officers felt threatened.

“The officer was unable to move, at that time… The second officer felt there was a need to engage the dog, or he felt threatened--that the [other] officer was threatened by the dog," Cragun said.

Hope Martinez recounts an incident in which police shot a dog. The dog's owner comforts family members in the background.

The dog was shot near a car, where Cano's nieces and nephews were sitting with the door open. Hope Martinez said the dog was shot, "right in front of me."

“All the cops asked us if we were OK in the car, because the door was open and they shot him just right there, in front of the car; we could have got hurt," she said.

Cragun said he wasn't sure how far the children were from the dog when it was shot. Cano said he worries about police discharging weapons so close to children.

"My niece, my nephews were around," he said. "They were right in that direction, and what if the officer would have missed and shot the kids or something?"

Cano carried the wounded animal inside the home, and later Animal Control Services came and took the dog to a veterinarian clinic, where the animal was euthanized.

"They did some X-rays on him, they gave me a phone call back saying that his whole left arm was shattered and the only way to save him was to just cut his whole leg off, which I don’t have the money to pay for that so I had no choice but to put him to sleep," Cano said.

Cano said the dog shouldn't have been shot, and he claims the dog was just trying to give the officer, "some loving."

"He’s a loving dog, a very playful dog, the best dog you could ever ask for," Cano said. "All my kids play with him, all my neighbors come over and play with him. The whole family owns him."

Martinez said she thinks police didn't have to shoot the dog in front of them, and she said the experience was a traumatic one for her.

“I love animals, and I want to be a vet when I grow up, but I don’t know if I can still,” she said with tears in her eyes.

Cragun said they feel the situation is unfortunate, but he said officers have a right to defend themselves.

“It’s always unfortunate when these things happen," he said. "It’s not something these officers want to do, but on the other hand they don’t want to get bit either, and so they have a right to protect themselves. They tried obviously with non-lethal force as well, the Taser was ineffective... and so it resulted in them having to use lethal force.”

The officers did not suffer any injuries. Cragun said he believes Animal Control Services issued a citation to the dog's owners for the incident. The incident is under investigation, as is procedure whenever police discharge a weapon.