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Friday, October 17, 2008

Woman's dog shot by police

Tracy Dummet was lying on her couch watching Oprah yesterday afternoon when she heard a commotion outside.

She went to the front door of her Sylvan Hills home and saw a cop running toward her back yard, which is enclosed by a six-foot privacy fence. She heard him yell, "freeze!" Then she heard gunshots.

She ran to her back door to call her pit bull mix, Veruca, into the house. Her other two dogs, Rosie and Mayfield, already were inside.

When Veruca came bounding up, blood was streaming from her face.

It turns out that the dog had chased a police suspect through her yard after he'd scaled the fence. The cops were close behind him. Upon seeing the dog, one of the officers pulled his gun. He shot her four times.

To Dummet, it looked like her dog's snout had been blown off. "Immediately I thought, they killed my dog."

Miraculously, Veruca survived. She's in stable condition at a local vet. She has bullet wounds to her face, her front leg, her tail and the base of her spine. Early estimates of her medical costs are $5,000 to $7,000.

When contacted today, Atlanta police spokesman Officer James Polite said, "I’m trying to see if there’s anything to that. I’m curious to see what transpired."

Polite said that, generally, it is within an officer's right to shoot a dog — under certain circumstances.

"If an officer has fear of his life, another’s life or serious damage to property, he or she may use whatever force is necessary, even up to deadly force," he said.

This isn't the first case of local law enforcement shooting a citizen's dog. In 2003, an Atlanta officer shot a Virginia-Highland woman’s yellow Lab that was sitting outside a corner store. Two years earlier, in Little Five Points, a man’s Rottweiler was shot by a DeKalb County marshal while the man was being evicted from his apartment — the day before his court date on the eviction.

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