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Animal advocates demand justice after dog fatally shot in front of 6-year-old

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A Hometown, Illinois family is devastated, as their dog Apollo has died after being shot by a Hometown Police Department officer on Friday. NBC Chicago reported the story July 26.

Apollo, a 1-year-old shepherd mix, had gotten out of his yard in the 8700 block of Beck Place in southwest Hometown, and the family had just return with him to their yard when an officer from the Hometown Police showed up. According to owner Nicole Echlin, the officer already had his gun drawn.

Nicole told NBC

“I tried to call him in the house and he just stood there staring and I guess he showed his teeth and the cop just shot him, right in front of me and my 6-year-old daughter.”

Witnesses are disturbed in that Apollo wasn't attacking or provoking officers before the shooting. Neighbor Nicco Torres described Apollo's murder

“Then I saw a cop shoot the dog, the dog fell to ground on the lawn. I saw through the window the dog was on the floor shot but the dog was still moving, it was moving its legs like it was trying to run but it was laying down.”

The family was told Apollo showed his teeth, so they shot him. Nicole's sister works in animal care in Chicago, and is concerned what consequences this will hold for the 6-year-old who witnessed the tragedy.

“And to shoot a dog in front of a child that’s going to scare her for the rest of her life.”

This poor child fell to the ground screaming after witnessing her dog being shot. The 6-year-old hasn't been told her dog is dead. She believes Apollo is only 'sleeping,' and the family fears for her mental health once she's told the truth.

Apollo was taken by Animal Control to an animal clinic for treatment, but died Saturday morning.

Dog advocates have banded around the family since the shooting. A Facebook page Justice for Apollo can be found here. A petition has also been set up here, asking for the firing of the unnamed officer, as well as charging him with animal cruelty.

This case goes much deeper than a dog being shot by police. Apollo was shot in the head in the presence of a 6-year-old child who was nearby. His act of extreme force not only killed the family dog, but endangered the life of a child and deeply traumatized her.

In the manner the officer discharged his firearm, he also endangered neighbors and witnesses. These witnesses back up the family's story that Apollo was not attacking or acting in an aggressive manner.

Chief Forsyth of the Hometown Police Department posted a media statement on their Facebook page

"In reference to the tragic incident that occurred on Beck It would be too early for me to make any statement without reviewing all the facts.I can assure the people of ,Hometown that a full investigation of the incident will be conducted."

Chief, it would be in the best interest of your department to remove this officer from duty-permanently. If you fail to do so, you will tarnish the reputation of your entire staff, and possibly put their lives in danger.

As a writer who specializes in cases of dogs shot by police, I can tell you that if you fail to punish this officer to the fullest extent of the law, this incident will follow your department for years to come.

Your department has most likely received everything from death threats to harassing phone calls. From past experience, I can tell you these will likely continue until you take action, and by action, I don't mean 'clearing the officer of any wrongdoing.'

Any man that would fire his weapon in such close proximity to a child shouldn't be entrusted to "serve and protect."

Readers, your comments are welcome. Please do not threaten anyone with the Hometown Police Department. It doesn't lead to progress to stoop to their level.

To learn more about dogs shot by police, all of the Examiner articles I've written can be found here. Unfortunately, there are more than 100 of them now.

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