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Springfield Police Chief responds to criticism after dog is shot in the head

Kiki, recovering after being shot by Springfield Police
Kiki, recovering after being shot by Springfield Police
Breonna Kerr

The Springfield, Oregon Police Department issued a media statement responding to criticism after one of their officers shot a dog on August 12, KMTR reported August 14..

A peaceful protest was held Thursday afternoon, where animal advocates stressed the importance of dog behavior training for officers.

The Springfield Police Department Police Chief Tim Doney has also issued a media release, which explains the officer's version of what happened.

"6:49 pm - A female neighbor called SPD reporting the dog as running loose and barking at people. No animal control officers were working and no SPD officers were available to respond to the call at that time.

7:13 pm - 72 year old male caller reports a vicious dog, chasing pedestrians and cyclists. While speaking with dispatchers, the caller threatens to shoot the dog himself.

An SPD officer arrives on scene and observes several citizens pointing at the dog which is on the sidewalk barking at other citizens.

The officer tries to distract the dog and gain his attention. Residents in the area point out to the officer the home at which the dog is believed to live."

The statement goes on to tell how the officer attempts to make contact with the owners, but is unable to. Soon the dog becomes aggressive and charges him. The officer attempts to back away, the the dog continues to charge and lunges at the officer.

At this time, the officer fired one round, striking the dog. When the dog runs off, the officer follows in case other citizens are at risk of attack. The dog eventually runs into a yard, where it's contained.

That dog was Kiki, a pit bull owned by Breonna Kerr of Springfield. She, along with neighbors who witnessed the incident say Kiki isn't an aggressive dog.

One of the people who came out to protest, Darla Wardrip, said she is a dog trainer and met with Kiki herself. She stated in an interview with KMTR

"I evaluated her temperament, and I believe she's not a dangerous dog. She was probably, you know, being territorial because it was her environment."

Wardrip said she thinks the officer should have resorted to a different use of force, like bear spray, and had better training on dog behavior.

Doney defended his officers, saying they receive training with use of force scenarios. He stated

"The bottom line to this is that if this animal had been secured in a yard or in a home, we wouldn't be here today."

Family members of the dog’s owner reported that the dog in normally isn't allowed out without supervision. When the family is gone, the dog is normally kenneled in the backyard or tethered/tied to a tree.

Chief Doney also reported Kiki has killed cats in the past.

Doney said his department responds to more than 100 dogs calls a year, and often deal with dogs on in their work. His department is full of dog lovers, he stressed.

"We go through a lot of training in reference to dealing with use of force scenarios, both primarily with human beings but also sometimes in reference to dogs."

Doney said the police department is full of dog lovers, himself included.

While at the Veterinary Hospital, Doney reported to media the family was advised to muzzle the animal. He would like for anyone has any additional information to call the Springfield Police Department at (541) 726-3714.

A good percentage of people who have heard about this recent shooting of a family dog are blaming the owner for keeping her dog on a chain.

Witnesses are also disputing the police version of what took place Tuesday evening near the intersection of South 41st and Camellia Street when Springfield police responded to an aggressive dog call.

Police say witnesses interviewed reported a 12 year old boy was walking down the street and the dog charged off the porch of a home and at him. The boy was able to take refuge by a parked vehicle and yelled for help.

One witness, a 72 year old man, was walking down the street and says Kiki charged off the porch of a home at him, running into the street. This same man reported that the Kiki also chased after two bicyclists who were also able to get away.

This is the same man who threatened to shoot Kiki himself.

Most report being more upset with the method used to subdue the dog, rather than the need for the officer to protect himself and the public. Animal advocates are simply tired of an officer using his weapon as the first line of defense in controlling what the officer believes is a potentially dangerous situation.

Did the officer do the right thing by shooting Kiki? Since witnesses say the report given by the officer is wrong, what are the chances he's not telling the truth?

Please leave a comment below on how you believe this case was handled. If anyone who witnessed Kiki being shot would like to dispute Doney and his department, please feel free to do so.