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Police shoot rescue dog in Lebanon yard; now the dog’s owner wants justice

After spending over an hour trying to resolve the situation by identifying the dog's owner and using a catch pole, officers made the decision to shoot the dog.
Credit: Jacklyn Shughart

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — A woman is expressing outrage on social media after police shot, and killed her dog that had gotten loose in Lebanon earlier this week.

Around 10:30 a.m. on July 6, police were called to a residence on the first block of Tiffany Lane in Lebanon for a report of a stray dog in a backyard. The caller told police that he had discovered the dog while attempting to let his own dog outside, and had offered the stray water, but the dog growled at him.

The responding officers called the Lebanon County Humane Society and the Pa. Dog Warden to request assistance, yet no assistance was immediately available, according to a police press release. 

The dog was not wearing a collar, and after failing to identify the dog's owner, officers spent approximately one hour making attempts to resolve the issue without the need to use a catch pole, police say. 

After making several unsuccessful attempts to capture the dog with the use of the catch pole, responding officers decided to utilize a taser to incapacitate the dog to facilitate successful use of the pole. Officers were then able to loop the catch pole around the dog and attempted to calm the animal, police said.

The dog became aggressive, according to police, and based on its behavior, officers "reasonably believed" that if the dog was able to escape the catch pole, it would attack one of them. 

Due to this, officers deemed the dog a danger and a threat, so as a "last resort," officers shot the dog one time in order to prevent complete escape from the catch pole and to protect officers and the public from endangerment. 

The owner of the dog was identified shortly after the incident when she contacted police to report the dog missing, the release continued. The owner told police that she suspects an unknown person opened the gate to her yard releasing her two dogs; she recovered the first dog on her own prior to the incident with the deceased dog. 

Police returned the deceased dog’s remains to her at her request.

Authorities are asking for assistance in identifying the person(s) responsible for opening the gate to the owner's yard.

The dog's owner, Jacklyn Shughart, has since expressed outrage in a post on Facebook, claiming that her dog was "murdered" by the responding officers. 

"I would like to make this clear after yesterday's events, because there may be confusion that I was 'okay' with the actions of the police officers involved," she said in her post. Shughart claims that after seeing video of the incident, she only had the word of the police officer who "unjustifiably" shot her dog, Gunner. 

"I now know everything I was told initially was false and this matter is being handled by us (Shughart's family) and the rescue as well," her post went on. "Our dog was murdered by these officers and there will be justice."

"I would like to thank everyone who has shown us support, given us advice on how to handle and pursue actions, and continues to show my family support," her post concluded. "Things need to change and if this is the start of something better and raises awareness so this doesn't happen again, then Gunner will live on, not only in my family's hearts, but everyone else's too." 

A routine internal investigation of the incident is being conducted by police. 

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