By Carrie Cline, WSAZ
A dog was shot when a police officer felt threatened. Owners say the dog was not vicious
To say Shawn Lezu is upset, would be an understatement. His beloved dog, Bubba, was rushed to the veterinary hospital, fighting for his life after a Huntington police officer shot him in his face.
“It’s a fine line they walk," Lezu said. "Police officers can do whatever they want and just say they fear for their lives."
It happened last Thursday when police were called to this home in Guyandotte for a domestic dispute. Shawn and his girlfriend, Sherry Noble, live here -- the argument was between two family members who were visiting.
“I was getting ready to go back in the house and that’s when Bubba slipped out," Sherry said. He walked down the sidewalk like he always does."
“As he was walking, the police officer out in the yard had a gun pointed at him the entire time and when he reached the second bush, he fired a .45 caliber bullet into my dog,” Shawn said .
“My dog is not a vicious dog and I know he didn’t charge that officer,” said Sherry.
“When they shot him, that really hurt us,” said Shawn.
“Any dog owner would be upset and we understand that,” said Chief Skip Holbrook, Huntington Police Dept.
Chief Holbrook, says his officer had to make a split second decision and was justified in his actions.
“We treat dogs just like humans," Cheif Holbrook said. "If we perceive something to be wrong, we’re going to protect ourselves with the quickest means we can get our hands on."
Bubba just underwent surgery to remove the bullet that entered his cheek and lodged in his neck. Doctors expect he'll make a full recovery.
It's a tragedy this couple doesn't ever want to see anyone else go through again. Chief Holbrook agrees and offers some precautionary advice.
“Whenever you call 911, it’s a good idea to let the dispatcher know that you have a really big dog so they can alert the responding officers. Even if there’s a dog in the yard or house, it’s good to note that too,” said Chief Holbrook.
As for Shawn, as the owner, he says he does bear some responsibility.
“The only responsibility I bear is that I shouldn't have let the dog get out. We tried not to, but he was accidentally let out,” said Shawn.
Shawn and Sherry say they will call emergency services and note with them they do have a large pit bull mix so officers will know and be able to act accordingly should they ever need to return to the house.
They'd also like to see officers use pepper spray as a first line of defense on a dog before shooting it. Chief Holbrook says pepper spray or even a stun gun are more likely options when officers have advance warning.