Officer responding to wrong address for domestic call shoots man's pet. KXAN's Shannon Wolfson reports.
Updated at 6:00 p.m. ET: A man whose Australian Cattle Dog Cisco was shot dead by a Texas police officer responding to a 911 call at a wrong address is asking for improvements to how authorities handle animals they encounter during such investigations.
Michael Paxton said he was playing with his 7-year-old dog in his backyard in Austin on a “quiet” Saturday when an officer showed up in his driveway. His dog, who ran out barking, was dead in seconds, he said.
“I told the officer, you know, don’t shoot my dog cause I knew the dog was going to run forward towards us,” Paxton, a 40-year-old lab tech, told msnbc.com. “He (Cisco) ran to the officer’s feet; the officer shot him and killed him.”
“I was panicked, traumatized,” he said, noting that Cisco -- who he said has never attacked anyone -- was like his child. “It’s a very painful loss for me.”
The policeman had been responding to a call about a man holding a woman against her will and fighting out front at the address, Sgt. David Daniels, a police spokesman, told msnbc.com. But the pair didn’t live there and were not on the scene when the officer arrived, he said.
That was not known when the officer reached Paxton’s home, Daniels said, adding that police did eventually find the pair, who lived a few doors down.
“It’s unfortunate that these two particular individuals were fighting in front ... of that location, but that was the location that was provided to the officer,” he said.
From a recording made at the scene, and played on a local affiliate, the officer can be heard yelling, “Show me your hands! Show me your hands! Hey, get your dog!” and then a shot is heard.
An exchange continues between the pair, with the officer asking Paxton why he didn’t get his dog.
“You pulled a gun out and told me to put my hands up. What am I supposed to do?” Paxton replied, according to the recording.
Daniels said the shooting was deemed justified and that police policy allows for officers to use deadly force to neutralize any animal they come across that poses an imminent safety threat.
“We encounter dogs all the time,” Daniels said. “This is not the first dog that we’ve shot. … It’s unfortunate. We’ve apologized to the gentleman -- not for the fact the officer did anything wrong -- but the fact that his dog was killed.”
Daniels said Cisco had come out “charging” the officer in an aggressive manner, though Paxton disputed that, saying his dog ran up barking like he would to any stranger. Daniels said the officer feels bad about the incident.
Cisco was a Blue Heeler (there are also Red Heelers; they are named by the color of their fur). The breed is popular in Texas because of its skill at herding cattle; they instinctively nip at their heels, Paxton said.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Paxton has called for an improvement to police policy about how to handle animals in such situations, including providing a clear definition of what behavior is “threatening” to “clarify the gray area that there seems to be.”
“I’m not on a vendetta against the police,” he said. “I understand that they have a difficult job and they have to react quickly, but you also have to be able to make rational decisions quickly, not just any decision.”
“I think that there’s an opportunity to make a change for the positive,” he added, so that “my sweet boy, he didn’t die in vain. … He can make a difference.”
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