Family angry after officer shoots service dog

Family angry after officer shoots service dog


by BORA KIM / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @BoraKimWCNC

Posted on August 21, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 22 at 5:22 AM

TROUTMAN, N.C. -- Head down Rankin Hill Road in Troutman, and you will notice a very public display of anger and grief.

The sign displayed on the Wiggins’ front yard names a Mooresville Police officer they say shot and killed their 2-year-old beloved German Shepherd, Drogo.

“I've been married 26 years, never seem him cry like this,” said Sherri Wiggins of her husband. 
She says without her knowledge, he had put up the sign, which in part read “Dog Killer.”

On Monday, the officer who resides two houses down along the rural road, called Animal Control to report the shooting.

Sherri Wiggins says she was home preparing dinner when she noticed Drogo was nowhere to be found.

“I started yelling for him and couldn't find him,” she said.

She eventually found Drogo near her neighbor’s home.

“He was lying there, and he was awake and looking at me. He was bleeding pretty bad, but I could see the one (shot) on his front paw,” she said.

Wiggins believes Drogo was shot first in the paw and then three times around his hind legs.

Wiggins says she was told by investigators Drogo had been on the officer’s property at the time of the shooting.

“He told me, ‘Tim shot him three times, and he felt like he was in misery so he shot him a fourth time to put him down,’ but when I got there an hour later, he was still alive, laying there, suffering,” she said.

The family rushed him to the vet.

“Instead we had to make a conscious decision not to pay thousands of dollars, we could not afford, and put him down, and I had to sit there and watch my husband cry,” she said.

Wiggin questions the officer’s judgment, saying his actions borders on animal cruelty.

“It’s inhumane,” she said.

Wiggins says Drogo can be “protective”, but is very docile and had never bitten anyone before.

She says Drogo had the kind of temperament that made him an effective service dog.  She says he was in training, and had made numerous trips to the Hospice of her late mother.

Wiggins is asking why a trained officer would not use other means to scare the dog away.

“I'm not saying he should have not shot at him, but he is a police officer. Why not carry pepper spray, mace, or shoot in the air. A mercy shot would have been in the head, wouldn’t you think, and he is a cop,” she asked.

Iredell County Sheriff’s investigators determined the officer acted accordingly. No further investigation is expected, and no charges filed. The Mooresville Police began an internal administrative review as is the policy, but no action was taken.

The family installed an electronic fence around their seven acre property last Friday.

Wiggins says upon learning of another neighbor’s encounters with her dogs during his walk three weeks ago, the fence immediately went up.

He was not hurt, but she says the dog’s “excitement” was concerning.

One neighbor says her dogs have been on her property before. At first she had been frightened by their barking, but she says they stopped at that.

This neighbor, who did not want to be identified, says she could understand why people unfamiliar of the dogs could be taken by surprise.

Wiggins says Drogo was wearing his electric collar and two other collars at the time, but cannot understand how he ended up on the officer’s property.

She says no one had ever called to voice a complaint about her dogs.  Her property is commonly used to house stray animals.  Among the horses, donkeys and pigs she keeps, she commonly takes in dogs and cats she says are left abandoned on her road.

Wiggins says many cars stop along her house to look at the animals and most recently take pictures of the foal. She believes that may have led to the dogs enthusiastic behavior, but she is still convinced Drogo would not have hurt anyone.

She is also upset after hearing of the exchange between her neighbors and the officer; they claimed they asked the officer not to use excessive force against the animals.

“He told them (neighbors) three weeks ago, that he would shoot a German Shepherd if he came on his property, and they said, not do that, because he was just protecting the property.”

The officer could not be reached for comment.