Was a Canadian officer justified in shooting Missty the dog, or is it an example of police being too quick to fire?
That’s the debate after an officer with the Regina Police Service shot the 3-year-old American Staffordshire bull terrier cross, which owner Lance Murphy described as “basically a therapy dog to me,” according to CBC.
Murphy wrote in a statement that he arrived to Rambler Park on Wednesday and let his dogs out to play, according to GlobalNews.
From there, police and Murphy have two different tales.
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Acting deputy police chief Corey Zaharuk said in a Thursday press conference that the officer — who works with K9 units — “began sensing very troubling behavior” from Missty as the dog ran freely in an area that does not permit pets to be off-leash, the Regina Leader-Post reported. He said the officer felt like he was in “immediate danger” because Murphy called the dogs but they kept running around the officer with an “aggressive posture,” the newspaper reported.
But if you ask Murphy, he says Missty was just trying to play with the ball she had in her mouth, according to The Canadian Press.
Murphy said he had been playing catch with Missty before the day at the park turned violent, GlobalNews reported.
As reported by CBC, Murphy also said the officer never tried to get his attention before shooting his dog, contrary to what police say happened.
“Missty is so amazing and loving, and loves everyone, and just wants to play,” he wrote in a statement, according to CBC. “Of course, she was going to come towards you; she has a ball she wants you to throw for her.”
What’s not disputed is that the officer fired two shots from a pistol at Missty, with one of the bullets hitting her shoulder, the Regina Leader-Post reported. Zaharuk says the police officer suspected that the dogs were “preparing to attack,” the newspaper wrote, while Murphy says “my dog wasn’t barking or jumping or growling.”
GlobalNews reported that after the shots were fired, Murphy began to yell “don’t shoot my dog, stop shooting my dog!” The man said he was “shaky, crying and sitting on the ground” as the officer did not let him immediately take Missty to a vet for treatment, according to the outlet.
Zaharuk pushed back against that accusation in a press conference, video of which is available on the Regina Police Service website.
“When tensions are high, 20 seconds can seem like an eternity,” he said. “I’m not saying it was a couple minutes, but my belief right now is that it was a very brief period of time before the dog owner was on his way.”
Missty suffered a broken shoulder from the bullet, and could possibly lose her entire right leg, according to a GoFundMe page created to help cover the dog’s medical expenses. As of Friday afternoon, the page has raised just over $2,000 of its $6,000 goal.
“Despite the drastic difference in recall of the events that lead up to and surround Missty’s injury by the Police Officer and Missty’s human,” the page reads, “Missty is an innocent victim of this event.”
Police say they are still investigating the shooting, and that the officer’s workload hasn’t changed, according to the Regina Leader-Post. But Murphy is still arguing that the officer could have used a Taser or pepper spray instead of resorting to gunfire.
“It’s just the worst thing that could happen,” he told the Regina Leader-Post.