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Officer Who Shot Dog Placed On Leave

SEVERN, Md. — The off-duty federal police officer who shot and killed a Siberian husky in a Severn dog park has been placed on administrative leave.

Investigators revealed Thursday the weapon used in the killing of the family dog, as the community converged to pay tribute.

Anne Arundel County police spokesman Justin Mulcahy released a statement late Thursday afternoon indicating that the weapon used by an off-duty Department of Defense officer was the officer’s personal weapon.

Police said the 32-year-old officer fired his weapon at the Siberian husky named Bear-Bear at the Quail Run Community Dog Park in Severn at about 6:30 p.m. Monday. Since the incident, police have not released the officer’s identity, stating that a criminal investigation continues.

Police said the federal officer told them that he and his wife went to dog park with their leashed German shepherd. At some point, Bear-Bear approached the German shepherd, and the officer feared for his safety.

According to a statement from county police, “The off-duty officer stated that he feared for the safety of himself, his wife and their dog and subsequently shot the husky with a handgun he had in his possession.”

Bear-Bear was taken to Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Annapolis, where he died.

Dozens of people and their dogs gathered around a growing memorial Thursday evening to honor 3-year-old Bear-Bear and to share in his owners’ grief. No one spoke at the tribute, as visitors just quietly played with their dogs and comforted the owners, Rachel and Ryan Rettaliata.

“The whole neighborhood loved him. When you saw him, you couldn’t help but to fall in love with him, and he was so playful,” Rachel Rettaliata said. “We’re passionate about making sure that Bear-Bear gets the justice he deserves because he was a good animal, and he didn’t deserve this.”

Thursday night’s tribute to Bear-Bear was organized by a Facebook group, Justice For Bear-Bear, which has gathered more than 3,200 members in the past two days.

“Him and my dog played in this dog park. (We) encountered him numerous times. (Bear-Bear was) definitely a sweetheart,” said Thomas Sadiq, a neighbor.

For some at the vigil, the dog park is no longer considered a safe place.

“I don’t know if I can bring my dog back here, having that happen, somebody just walk up and shoot your dog while he’s playing,” Sadiq said. “It definitely makes me think twice about bring my dog here.”
“Bear-Bear was a baby, a very sweet and loving dog … It (has) been a few days of a lot of tears, and I don’t think they’ll end any time soon.”
– Rachel Rettaliata

The off-duty officer works at Fort Meyer in Arlington, Va., but lives in Anne Arundel County. Investigators reiterated the officer’s side of the story, saying the officer claimed he shot Bear-Bear because the dog bit his German shepherd and tried to bite him.

The Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office is also involved with the investigation. Bear-Bear’s owners said the two dogs were just “play fighting” before the shooting.

The officer’s attorney, David Putzi, also hasn’t released the officer’s name, citing threats against his client.

Putzi did said the officer fired his gun in the defense of his own dog, himself and his wife.

“Bear-Bear was a baby, a very sweet and loving dog,” Rachel Rettaliata said. “It (has) been a few days of a lot of tears, and I don’t think they’ll end any time soon.”