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Lebanon residents demand justice for dog shot by city police

Police have justified the action, saying the dog was aggressive towards officers. The dog's owners say that's not true.

LEBANON, Pennsylvania — Residents in Lebanon are demanding answers after a dog was shot by city police last Wednesday.

The incident happened on July 6th, when police were called to a home on Tiffany Lane for reports of a stray dog.

But that dog wasn’t a stray. 

He was a one-year-old German shepherd named Gunner, who escaped from his own yard when an unknown person opened the gate.

"It’s a tragedy," said Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello. "People are emotional. It’s their pet, it’s a friend’s pet. Dog families are united and they’re strong and we’re a part of that as well."

On Wednesday night, Gunner’s owners were joined by dozens of community members outside City Hall, demanding justice for the dog.

“I had to do something," said Lisa Urso, who organized the protest. "I was distraught by it and I have a German shepherd named Gunner. All I could think of is, 'If that was my dog, what would I do?'"

Police have justified their action, saying the dog had become aggressive, biting a catch pole that they were using to try to safely lure it.

Officers say they spent approximately one hour trying to resolve the situation in another way.

They called the Lebanon County Humane Society and state dog warden, but neither were available.

“The dog was very upset, very angry, understandably, and we were hoping to tire it out, but he wasn’t getting tired, unfortunately," said Mayor Capello. "He was coming out of the loop so they had to make a split-second decision that moment and that was the decision that was made."

The dog’s owners, who want to see the officers involved disciplined, say a video circulating on social media shows that’s not true.

“He never growled at you, he never gave you any sign other than aggression towards a dog pole which any normal dog would do when three guys are ambushing you with a pole, trying to put a noose around your neck and drag you across the yard," said Jamie Shughart, Gunner's owner.

City leaders tell FOX43 the incident remains under internal review and police body cam footage tells a different story.

“What was seen on social media is very different from the footage we have that we believe our officers were facing," said Mayor Capello. "The social media video is from a side angle, a little bit of a distance away from where the officers were. They were a few feet in front of the dog. So it shows a different picture.”

“If what you’re saying is true, then release the cam, show it," said Jaclyn Shugart, Gunner's owner.

Mayor Capello says the city does not plan to release the police body camera footage at this time.

It's yet to be seen if the footage will be released at a later date.

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