A Nebraska State Patrol trooper shot and killed his neighbor’s dog Friday morning after the dog threatened him, according to the North Platte police.
Trooper Justin Buhlke and his wife were loading up their truck for a quick trip out of town when three dogs approached just before 9 a.m., according to a police spokesman. Buhlke’s truck was backed up next to his garage. Buhlke exited the garage with the last items to go into the truck – his badge, an off-duty .40-caliber handgun, and his own dog, officials said.
Buhlke’s dog was wearing a shock collar and Buhlke had the controller in his hand.
Officials said Buhlke recognized the dogs as they lived across the alley from him. They were Missy, an American Bulldog and pit bull cross that was two-years-old; Norman, a Jack Russell terrier and Sadee, a Cocker Spaniel. The dogs belonged to Dinah Johns, who lives on West Third.
Nebraska State Patrol Lt. Greg Vandenberg, who also investigated the incident, said Missy ran up Buhlke’s driveway and chased his dog behind a shed. He said Buhlke set the gun, his badge and the shock collar controller on the back bumper of his truck.
Vandenberg said Buhlke reported hearing growling and snarling but couldn’t see what was happening due to the shed. Then Buhlke said he heard a yelp and his dog ran around the shed and back into the garage, according to Vandenberg.
“Buhlke yelled at Missy to ‘go home, go home,’” Vandenberg said. “Instead, the dog growled, bared his teeth and approached closer.”
Vandenberg said Buhlke felt threatened when the dog was two or three feet away, picked up his gun and fired once, striking the dog in his neck. All three dogs then ran back to their yard, Vandenberg said.
Johns, who had just arrived home from work, said she had gone to bed when her cousin let the dogs out.
“I heard them barking then a gunshot,” Johns said. “I ran downstairs and my cousin was yelling, ‘Your dog just got shot.’”
Johns said Missy crawled back through the back door and collapsed in the kitchen. They took Missy to the vet but she had to be put down, Johns said.
Johns said Buhlke’s story didn’t make sense to her.
“Missy was supposedly facing him and growling when she was shot,” Johns said. “How could he hit her sideways through her neck?”
“I find it hard to believe,” Johns said. “To me his story is confusing. It doesn’t add up.”
Johns also wondered why Buhlke didn’t come to them and explain what happened.
“We first thought someone was just randomly shooting in the alley,” Johns said.
Vandenberg said Buhlke knew it would be an emotional scene so waited for the police to arrive to calm things down.
Johns said her eight-year-old and 19-year-old daughters were crying.
Johns said Missy was a gentle dog who grew up around kids.
Sgt. Dan Shea, who investigated the incident, said the Johns dogs had been loose before and said an animal control officer said Missy once advanced on him.
Vandenberg said the Johns invested in a six-foot privacy fence to insure their dogs stayed in the yard.
“That’s the tragedy of this situation,” Vandenberg said. “Someone left the gate open, which led to all of this happening.”
Buhlke was not issued any citations. Neither were the Johns.
“He was on his property and he was in fear the dog was going to attack him,” Shea said.