Pit Bull Owner Seeks Reimbursement After Police Shot, Injured His Dog

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SACRAMENTO --

A pit bull is recovering from a gunshot wound after Sacramento Police officers say it aggressively charged them in the dark, forcing them to shoot it.

"He's not a vicious dog," Lynn Barker said.

Barker told FOX40 two of his pit bulls were sleeping in bed with him at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, but something startled them and they ran outside. He said he thought nothing of it, because they often run out to the front yard to greet neighbors.

Sacramento Police say at the same time they were inside Barker's front gate, on the 1500 block of Nogales Street.

Officer Doug Morse said police recently recovered a vehicle that had been reported stolen from a man last known to stay with Barker at his home on Nogales.

"So it was a very unfortunate incident because we were just there on a routine follow up," Morse said.

Morse said one of the officers fired one shot at the dogs, striking one of them near it's shoulder.

"Two dogs just charged from the back area of the house down a side driveway. As you can imagine, when an animal doesn't recognize someone and they're charging at you, there's really not that many options and the officers have to make sure they don't get injured. The officers were attempting to retreat, those dogs were moving in on them fast. And that officer was forced to shoot that dog," Morse said.

Barker says the dogs that police saw as a big threat are really just big babies. He says it is his dogs' job to protect their territory, but argues that they weren't even barking.

"They wouldn't have got him (the dog) to stop because they're dogs they're here to protect us you know but what they should have done is holler," Barker said.

Now, Barker's 5-year-old pit bull named "Ricky" has a shattered jaw and a gaping hole in his mouth. A vet at the Natomas Animal Medical Center told FOX40 the bullet struck Ricky behind his jaw and lodged in his neck.

The bullet has since been removed, but Ricky still needs emergency surgery to put a metal plate in his jaw and close the wound so it doesn't get infected.

"I mean the dog loves me. I've been in the hospital several times and I come home and he takes care of me. And I felt so bad you know, I didn't have the money," Barker said.

Barker is currently getting quotes from specialists for this surgery. He is hoping Sacramento Police will reimburse him for the medical expenses.

Morse said when officers are forced to fire on an aggressive dog, the department has a protocol to follow.

"The next step is animal control will come help us out if the dog is able to be helped with medical treatment," Morse said.

Morse said Barker refused to wait for this treatment and opted instead to immediately take Ricky to a 24 hour emergency vet.

Barker said the officer who shot Ricky apologized profusely and said he was scared for his life. Barker said he does not think the officer should get in trouble, he just thinks officers should handle big dogs in a different way.

Doug Morse said there are different ways officers can handle big dogs, but they only have seconds to assess what's the most appropriate way to respond in the field.

"With respect to your question, do we have different ways? Of course, you know. The bottom line is we're gonna do whatever is going to keep us safe up until the point of and whats most appropriate for the situation," Morse said.