2 loose dogs shot; 1 killed by police
Thursday March 29 2007
Lawrence police shot two dogs in North Lawrence on Wednesday afternoon, killing one of them.
Sgt. David Hubbel said animal-control officers were called about 2 p.m.
to the 700 block of North Third Street to catch three dogs running loose.
After nearly an hour of trying to round up the animals,
animal control called police to assist.
That's when police say one of the dogs lunged at an officer,
who fired his shotgun and killed the animal.
Hubbel said one of the dogs also was threatening to attack a child riding on a bicycle nearby.
The dog was shot in the leg but likely will survive.
Dog owners question shooting
Friday March 30, 2007
Police say animals were aggressive
Two North Lawrence residents are puzzled
about what led Lawrence police officers to shoot their dogs
who were loose in the neighborhood.
Both said the dogs didn't have a history of violence.
But on Wednesday afternoon,
police said the animals were aggressive
and an officer shot the dogs to protect a nearby 10-year-old boy and himself.
Kathy Coffey's family dog, Sid, a Labrador-hound mix, was killed
while her neighbor Sean O'Neal's dog, Dice, a pit bull-boxer mix,
sustained an injury that led to the amputation of a front leg.
Neither owner was home at the time of the shootings.
"Certainly, the choice the officer made was correct
to stop the aggression of the dog," said Sgt. Paul Fellers.
The name of the officer who shot the dogs was not available.
The dogs were on the loose shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday
in the 400 block of North Third Street,
and animal control officers were called.
According to police, animal control officers were unable
to bring the dogs under control using restraint poles -
long metal poles with a loop around the end.
A police officer was called to the scene to assist an hour later.
The officer reported that Dice aggressively approached the officer before backing off.
While the officer spoke with animal control,
both Dice and Sid approached while showing their teeth and growling, according to a police report.
At that point, Charlie Backus, a 10-year-old boy who lives nearby,
approached the scene on a bicycle. The officer placed himself between Dice and Backus and told Backus to return home.
The police report states that Backus fell off his bicycle and Dice began approaching.
The officer pointed a gun at the dog, who retreated.
Soon after, Dice ran toward the boy,
at which point the officer shot and wounded the dog,
causing it to run underneath Coffey's front porch.
At that point, the officer reported that Sid approached in an aggressive manner,
causing the officer to shoot Sid from about 10 feet away.
Coffey said she doesn't blame the officer for shooting the dog, but questioned his method.
"What I want to know is why did an officer use a shotgun?
Why were there not any tranquilizer guns being used?" she said.
"I felt that would have been more humane for the animals."
Fellers said police and animal control don't have a chemical immobilization gun.
He said one has been on order for at least a month.
Nevertheless, Fellers said such a gun likely would have been ineffective
in a situation where a dog charged at an officer because the chemicals don't act quickly enough.
Maggie Backus, whose son Charlie was nearby when the shooting occurred,
said Charlie was familiar with Dice.
Charlie, she said, didn't believe he was in danger
when Dice approached him shortly before the police officer shot the dog.
Nevertheless, she said she thought the officer made the right choice.
"It's just frustrating that the dogs were out and all this had to happen," she said.
Blackjack, O'Neal's other dog, stayed behind the fence
and barked at police during most of the incident.
It is at the Lawrence Humane Society where it's being evaluated for its aggressiveness.
O'Neal could face a hearing in Municipal Court about his dogs.
Jerry Little, city prosecutor, said he hasn't yet reviewed the report,
but will soon determine whether charges will be filed.
Aggressive canines are mistaken for pit bulls
Thursday April 12, 2007
Two weeks after Kathy Coffey's labrador-hound mix, Sid,
was shot and killed by a police officer who felt threatened by the animal,
Coffey says animal control needs better training for response situations.
Many 'dangerous dogs' are mistaken for pit bulls.
It's been two weeks since Sean O'Neal's 10-month old dog, Dice,
was shot by a Lawrence police officer.
His leg amputated as a result of the damage done,
Dice now lingers a bit behind O'Neal's other dogs, B.J. and Blackjack
when the three play inside the fence.
Besides a four-inch scar where the leg used to be, O'Neal said his pet has remained the same dog it was before the incident.
"Same old dog," O'Neal said of his Dalmatian-Boxer-Pit Bull mix.
"You stand over there and see him from the side, you wouldn't ever know anything happened."
According to the police report,
what happened on March 28 outside O'Neal's North Lawrence home
was a response to two dogs running loose.
One of the dogs was Dice, and the other was neighbor Kathy Coffey's labrador-hound mix, Sid.
When animal control officers were unable to control the two dogs, they called for police backup.
The report said a 10-year old boy approached the area on his bike,
and when the officer felt the boy and himself were being threatened by Dice,
he pointed his gun at the dog.
The dog initially retreated, but then again approached the two,
and the officer fired one shot.
Dice retreated to Coffey's front porch,
but Sid charged the officer and was shot twice and killed on the scene.
Messages left with Lawrence Animal Control were not returned.
While many cities - including Kansas City and Lee's Summit, Mo. - are moving toward pit bull bans,
Lawrence currently abides by a "dangerous dog" ordinance.
The ordinance, which was passed in 2003,
can require owners to keep their dogs in muzzles or in cages
if the dogs are cited for "dangerous" behavior.
None of the three dogs at the scene had been reported as dangerous before the incident.
Midge Grinstead, executive director of the Lawrence Humane Society,
said the ordinance had been successful in limiting the number of dog bites in the county
since its inception. She said the ordinance was a more well-rounded approach
to controlling a city's animals than breed bans, which focus on single breeds of dog.
"The difference is, we're not waiting for someone to take care of it," Grinstead said.
"Our job is to protect the public, and we're doing it."
Grinstead said breed bans cast an unfair opinion of certain dogs, most often pit bulls.
She said the media played a role in portraying the animals as vicious.
"They're not any more aggressive than a German Shepherd or a Rat Terrier.
We should be tracking the owner," Grinstead said.
"If something happens and it's a pit bull, it's getting reported."
The police report referred to Dice, Sid and Blackjack as pit bulls.
Sid was not a pit bull, and Blackjack, the only purebred pit bull,
was inside the gate when officers responded.
Currently, the Lawrence Humane Society has 31 animals catalogued as "dangerous",
though some of them have been removed from the area or have been euthanized for additional violations.
Coffey said no police or animal control units had ever been called to her residence,
and that her dogs had never been mentioned as "dangerous."
She was troubled by the police's response call being treated as a pit bull attack,
when neither of the dogs involved was a pure pit bull.
"Pit bulls are a product of their owners," Coffey said.
"Give them the time and attention they need,
and they know when you care for them or when you don't.
Sid was my puppy in a big dog's body. He was my goofy dog."
Coffey and O'Neal said Lawrence's current laws were doing a fine job,
and that neither dog had previously been cited for any type of violent behavior.
What they wanted to see, they said, were changes in the way animals were identified and treated.
"Aggressive dog calls need to be labeled as such, not pit bull attacks," Coffey said.
"I think the LPD are doing what they've been trained to do, which is fine.
They just need more training in breeds so they know what they're responding to."
O'Neal also said he didn't blame the officer who shot his dog.
He said he wondered why it took animal control units an hour
to control a dog that he calls calm and loving.
"I'd definitely like to see that animal control could do its job," O'Neal said.
O'Neal said the animal control officer he spoke to told him when they tried to restrain Dice, Sid would move in and vice versa.
"Why is that so hard? It shouldn't be that difficult to understand," O'Neal said.
"Hell, my seven-year old son can understand patterns."
O'Neal said the message he wanted the public to take from the incident
was that his dogs were not violent, and not all pit bulls should be grouped by stereotypes.
"I've seen pit bulls that were trained to fight, and it makes me sick," O'Neal said.
"But anyone who wants to come see my dogs, I say come see them.
They don't know you from Tom, Dick or Harry,
but they'll come running up to you like they know you."
I am hoping to be able to join a club where I can take my adorable three-legged dog
to meet other three-legged dogs.
"Lyle," as we call her, is a female all-white, long haired Akita aged nine.
Her full name is Lyle Lovett - of course, with a story behind it.
One week after her birth, we noticed funny tufts of hair coming out of the top of her head.
My husband made the comment: "She looks like Lyle Lovett, with that goofy hairdo!"
Well, it stuck.
She is the daughter of Griz and Godiva, Male female Akitas.
Nine years ago we had one litter with them and had four puppies.
Lyle Lovett was born a long haired Akita. We also have her sister Princess Leia.
Lyle was diagnosed with cancer (Osteo Sarcoma) two weeks ago, in her front left leg.
I noticed a bump above her wrist and also noticed she had been limping for a few days.
The lump came out of nowhere.
It was Monday night, and Tuesday morning I was at the Vet with her.
My worst fear came true. We just lost her father Griz to the same cancer January 8th,
just three months earlier. It was overwhelming.
Lyle - of all our 6 remaining dogs - hates the vet the worst. She just shakes, when we go.
The very next morning, I went to the University of Minnesota small dog vet for a final diagnosis.
Her leg was removed one week ago Thursday and she came home the next day - a week ago today.
It has been the longest, saddest week ever.
The other dogs have been just great, almost like they know.
Lyle is still on mild pain meds; she is now walking up the steps to go potty outside.
We live in a split-level and I have her downstairs in the family room/bedroom,
as it is less invasive with more rugs to walk on. I feel so bad for her.
I have to stay strong and not let her know my pain.
We don't know the future; I just pray - and so many others are, also - that her cancer has not returned.
We go next week to the oncologist for the results of her biopsy.
Lyle and her father both have been models in the past for Marshall Fields (now Macy's).
Please inform me if you know of any groups, i.e. for three-legged dogs in Minneapolis or suburbs.
Thank you for letting me share my story - we live one day at a time.
Kathleen Tucker Tapp
Thursday April 12, 2007