Police use deadly force on dog; Owner wonders why

By Doug Walker – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – Samuel Lovato is still in shock as he recalls the terrible moment when he lost his beloved pet, Melmo, in an instant.

Police were called to a possible break-in at the house next door in the Brentwood subdivision.

“I’m coming out of the house, I just got out of the shower, to go get my dog and I’m opening my door and I see a female cop. And she shot between five and six rounds at my dog,” Lovato remembered. “I looked at her and I was shocked. And I said, ‘I can’t believe you just shot my dog,’ and I proceeded to go back in the house.”

Melmo was a big dog, more than 120 pounds, but the animal was on a chain in Lovato’s back yard. Lovato questioned the use of deadly force.

“The officer was standing approximately right about here, about 30 feet away from where the chain ends.”

After the shooting, the dog’s obviously distraught owner brought the animal for treatment at the Gulfport Veterinary Hospital, but it was too late. The wounds were too severe and the animal could not be saved.

Dr. Jerry Spears is the veterinarian who treated Melmo.

“From the wounds that I examined, it looks like it had a spinal injury which paralyzed him from the hind legs,” Dr. Spears said. “Profuse bleeding from his mouth, plus some internal injuries, both of which led us to euthanize the animal.”

Police are looking into the incident, according to Lt. Craig Petersen with the Gulfport Police Department.

“First, we need to conduct our internal investigation,” Lt. Petersen said. “I feel really bad for the gentleman and the loss of his dog, but we’ll conduct the internal investigation.”

He also said that officers have to make life and death decisions in an instant, including assessing threats from animals.

“The officer has discretion in how to protect themselves in these situations, totally up to the officer based on the facts and circumstances of that particular case.”

But this case has left a hole in Lovato’s heart that won’t heal anytime soon.

“I’ve had her for 11 years. Eleven years. She was a great dog, a good dog and she was just in her yard doing her job and just being a dog.”

There is no timetable for when the investigation will be completed. The officer involved in the shooting remains on active duty.