A Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputy shot and wounded a pit bull in the Currier Creek neighborhood just west of Ellensburg Saturday evening.
The deputy responded to reports of two aggressive dogs running loose around the 2200 block of W. Clearview Drive, near their owners’ home.
Undersheriff Clay Myers said the deputy shouted at the dogs to go away upon arrival, and they ran to a fenced area behind their house at 2206 W. Clearview Drive.
While the deputy was speaking to a couple of residents about the call, one of the dogs, a pit bull mix, reportedly charged at the three, prompting the deputy to shoot, Myers said.
The injured dog ran back behind the house, and the deputy closed the open fence door behind the two dogs.
The dog, Zoey, survived, but owner Erick Duchesneau said he can’t believe Zoey and the other dog, his roommate’s, could be that menacing.
No one was home at his house when the dogs got out that day — the first time they’ve gotten out in around six months, Duchesneau said — but he wasn’t sure how the fence got open.
Duchesneau said he thinks the officer went into the situation thinking of a neighbor’s dogs, a similar pair that are much more aggressive and have a history of getting loose in the neighborhood.
“Their dogs are constantly terrorizing the neighborhood,” he said. “No one’s ever complained about my dog, but officers have been to my house for hers.”
Myers said the deputy was justified, and acted within sheriff’s office policies and procedures.
There is no county body that handles animal control issues, he said. Although the Ellensburg Animal Control office sometimes assists the sheriff’s office, it wasn’t available that evening.
Myers also said he seriously doubts the notion the deputy’s history with dog calls in the neighborhood somehow colored his response.
“The dog that got shot was the dog that was attacking at the time,” Myers said. “The deputy made his decision solely on the fact that the dogs were charging him. … The same two dogs went at the deputy twice, and their back gate was open. They’re the dogs that were out.”
Duchesneau said the bullet went through Zoey’s tongue and back of her throat before lodging in her shoulder.
The slug is now stuck there, and a veterinarian had to remove much of the dog’s tongue before stitching it back together.
Duchesneau took her to the veterinarian after he got home.
“She’s never hurt one person in her whole life,” he said. “She’ll growl and bark, but she’s never nipped.”
“I know a lot of people are quick to judge pit bulls before they even know them,” he said. “I really think that’s the main part of the case.”
His roommate’s dog, which also was in the yard, has been frightened away by small children sometimes, he said.
The sheriff’s office declared Zoey a dangerous animal, which would require her to be leashed and muzzled, specially registered, kept in a signed enclosure and insured.
Duchesneau can appeal the label to Sheriff Gene Dana, and he intends to, but he said he’s trying to gather more information and documents first.
“That way I can try to fully understand the story more and take action,” he said.
He also hopes, if he’s found in the right, the county will address the $600 spent toward Zoey’s medical needs, and possible further surgery should the slug in her shoulder need to come out.
Duchesneau also said he found it disturbing sheriff’s office personnel left Zoey hurt and bleeding for so long before he got home.
Myers said deputies tried to assess how she was doing, but they didn’t want to risk dealing with, and possibly shooting, a second dog.
“They didn’t want to leave an injured dog unattended back there, but they couldn’t go into the backyard because of how aggressive the other dog was,” Myers said. “They were concerned. They didn’t want to leave an animal (to) suffer, but again, they didn’t want to have to go shoot another dog.”
Deputies deal with aggressive dogs regularly, he said.
“It’s unfortunate. It doesn’t often get to this level,” Myers said.