Sheriff’s deputy resigns after shooting pet dog
Posted: Mar 31, 2011 9:33 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 01, 2011 10:37 AM EDT
By Christy Millweard


A Bollinger County deputy resigned after an incident at a domestic violence call goes awry.

Sheriff Leo McElrath says Deputy Kelly Barks arrested the man at the scene, and then got his permission to search the residence.

When Barks went inside, she saw the man’s three dogs growling at her. She thought one of them bit her, shot him, and went outside. After realizing she was fine, she went back into the residence where McElrath says the dog was still acting aggressive, so she shot him again. The dog then went into his kennel, where she shot and killed him.

But the aggressive dog, probably isn’t what you would think.

“When I found out the dog that was shot was a Chihuahua, I really was upset,” said McElrath.

And so were a number of other people.

“Shock, we really thought that the deputy that we were called about was in immediate life threatening danger so in that kind of instance I would always put a human life ahead of the viscous animal, but it seemed like there could have been a different course of action that resulted in a different outcome,” said Veterinarian Dr. Colleen Retz.

McElrath says he too feels as though the situation could have been handled differently. He says the deputy could have used Mace pepper spray, a baton or stick, or even a slight kick.

“If it had been a bigger dog, then I would have thought that would have been the proper procedure, but since it was a Chihuahua, I told him I was just sick that the whole incident had happened,” said McElrath.

Retz says it can be very difficult to tell the difference between a dog who is angry that you are on his or her territory, and a dog that has rabies.

“If you see a dog that starts acting funny, and you approach it and it starts to snarl, especially if it’s unfamiliar, I would back away slowly,” said Retz.

She says it is important to call the local authorities. But McElrath says the incident could have even been worse.

“It kind of worried me, that what would have happened if a little kid had jumped out from behind her, or something of that nature, or if there had been another person in the building,” said McElrath.

McElrath says he had not had problems with Barks in the past. He says he was even surprised when she resigned.

“It’s not one of those things, habitual problems or anything like that, no,” said McElrath.

McElrath says the department is using this incident as a learning experience and reviewing protocol.

“Once he was arrested and secured, I think that probably should have been the end of the procedure at the house,” said McElrath.

He says the will host a training course to reiterate with his officers what to do in this type of situation.