Aiken Co. family upset after dog shot, killed by law enforcement officer

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News 12 at 6 o’clock / Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011

WARRENVILLE, S.C. — An Aiken County family asked a deputy to stop by the house because their son was getting harassing phone calls. But when the deputy stepped out of the car, things quickly got out of hand.

The family says he shot too soon at their dog, who died after the incident.

“The deputy has to come home safe and the dog had to be stopped,” said Cpt. Troy Elwell with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.

But the dog’s owner has something different to say.

“Abby has no teeth — the officer said he saw teeth — that dog is 15 years old, has arthritis and don’t even have no teeth,” said Scott Wright.

Abby may have been a German shepherd, but Wright says his dog has never been aggressive and was not charging the officer.

“By the time I got done getting the dog’s name out of my mouth the officer had unhoisted his gun and shot her twice,” Wright said.

Whether the dog was about to bite or not, it is completely within an a deputy’s right to protect themselves if they feel threatened.

“If a dog is charging an officer, you can’t talk to a dog, we can’t talk that dog down — that dog has his teeth coming, he is just as much a threat as a man with a gun,” Elwell said.

Wright says Abby didn’t die right away.

“I would have liked for her to die at home, of old age, instead of the way she died because she suffered,” Wright said.

Wright has other dogs and just got a new one, but that won’t make it any easier for him.

“Nothing will replace Abby, my dog Abby,” Wright said.

The Sheriff’s Office says deputies hate when a split-second decision like this has to be made.

“We always try to go one step farther than we need to to make sure we are doing the right thing; we never want to take anyone’s life, any animal’s life,” Elwell said.

Wright just hopes deputies will take a closer look at this case before it happens again.

“I think there should some more alternatives before his officer should shoot his gun, fire it like that,” Wright said.

If you have a dog or any other kind of animal at your home and a deputy or police officer is headed to your way, make sure to put your animal up.

That’s the safest way to keep something like this from happening.

And if you aren’t able to put the animal away, make sure law enforcement knows if it is aggressive or not.