Police shoot support dog; neighbors say they didn’t need to do it

Posted on: 10:41 pm, May 6, 2013, by , updated on: 06:38pm, May 7, 2013

DACONO, Colo. — A Dacono family is demanding answers from police, after their support dog was shot when he got loose and ran toward a neighbor’s yard Sunday night.

Mongo, a 3-year-old pit bull puppy, is recovering from a gunshot wound to the chest, as his owner, James Vester, is hoping for an apology from Dacono Police.

“I didn’t think I would see that again. You see it in Iraq — and then you see your best friend here get shot,” said Vester, a Marine Corp. sniper, who says he got Mongo, a certified emotional support dog, to alleviate stress after returning from combat.

Vester said he was doing yard work, when Mongo got loose. Minutes later, a neighbor called police because Mongo began barking at her dogs from across a fence. Because Dacono’s animal control officer is off on Sunday’s, two police officers responded to the scene.

According to police reports, when the officers arrived, Mongo became aggressive, allegedly barking, growling and then lunging at an officer.  That’s why when the officer opened fired, police said.

Despite the reports, several neighbors had a different take on what happened.

“There was no noise at first, I just heard the gunshot — then the dog started crying,” said Heather Viera, who said she opened her door, but was told to go back inside her home. “I had thought maybe it got hit by a car.”

Another neighbor, Jenny Stevens, was just a few hundred feet down the street, walking her two dogs, when she heard the shot fired.

“There was no barking. It was dead silent — There was not a bark, there wasn’t a growl,” said Stevens. “The cop did not say stop to the dog, the cop didn’t yell anything.”

We brought the neighbor’s accounts to the Dacono Police Chief Matthew B. Skaggs, who told us that an internal investigation was being conducted, but that according to the testimony of critical witnesses, the officers did folllow protocol.

“I think it is important to remember these things develop very quickly,” said Skaggs. “If you look in the report, the officer did say specifically that the dog got within six feet of him and at that point he felt like it was his only option.”

Though, Mongo’s owner finds that hard to believe.

“Now I don’t even know what to do, what to think, or how to react,” said Vester. “I just feel dead inside right now.”

The results of the internal investigation are still two weeks away. We’re told the officer who shot Mongo will not be placed on leave.