Round Lake Beach cops shoot family’s barking puppy
By Beth Kramer October 6, 2011 6:28PM

Javel Townsend said his two sons, ages 10 and 11, are crying and hollering in their sleep, calling out their beloved puppy’s name.

That’s because the Townsend family is grieving the loss of Altgeld, their shepherd/hound mix puppy. Townsend alleges a Round Lake Beach police officer shot and killed the dog earlier this week.

“I guess police got fed up with him barking and shot him,” Townsend said Thursday. “I want to know why they had to shoot him.”

Townsend moved into the 1600 block of Lotus Drive about a week before school started. As a new tenant, he was unaware of a hole in the fence enclosing his yard until Altgeld escaped Tuesday.

He heard gun shots around the time he realized Altgeld was missing. He has a second, older dog that did not escape the yard.

“I didn’t think the actual gunshots had to do with my dogs, but when I heard (the shots), I tried to call my dogs in,” Townsend said.

He was initially concerned that a stray bullet would hit one of his dogs. When Altgeld didn’t respond, Townsend went outside where a neighbor said police were dealing with a dog on the next block.

Townsend found his dog dead near two police officers.

Christy Matthews of Johnsburg said she witnessed the dog’s shooting.

She grew up on Woodridge Street (which intersects with Lotus near Townsend’s home) and was driving down the street when she said she saw a Round Lake Beach police officer aiming a weapon at a barking dog.

“It was by chance that day when we (Matthews and her sister) turned down the road,” Matthews said.

She watched the dog, later identified as Altgeld, barking. The dog walked three to four feet toward the police officer, then backed away into a yard.

Altgeld was barking a lot, but was not foaming at the mouth or acting aggressively, Matthews said.

“The dog did not do anything. It wasn’t even a big dog — it came up maybe to the officer’s knee,” Matthews said.

She said she saw the officer fire four to five shots at the dog.

“I can’t believe a dog would get shot for barking,” Matthews said. “I don’t believe any living thing should be executed that way. It was horrible.”

She described herself as an animal lover. She also owns a shepherd mix, which is a vocal breed, she said.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes … I’m completely devastated. I don’t understand how an officer can justify shooting a dog like this,” Matthews said.

Townsend was issued tickets for the dog not having shots, for owning a dangerous dog and for the dog being at large. He is due in court Nov. 1 and is in discussions with an attorney.

“I’m going to fight this,” Townsend said.

Altgeld was named after John Peter Altgeld, an Illinois governor in 1896.

Round Lake Beach police did not return a phone call seeking comment.