Canton police say officer had no choice but to shoot dog that was coming at him ‘aggressively’

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CANTON, Ohio - Jason Pickenbaum says he was working on a truck behind his home Sunday when, out of nowhere, a dog appeared, growling and barking, and biting his leg.

"So, you know, I kicked him away from me and at that point I rolled underneath the truck and jumped over the fence so I could get inside the fence," said Pickenbaum.

He used his phone to snap a photo of the dog as it continued to bark at him aggressively from the other side of his fence.

"I mean dogs are aggressive, but usually if you are not bothering them they let you go. This one, it just wouldn't let you go; it just kept coming at you," he said.

Pickenbaum called Canton police who responded but could not find the dog in the neighborhood.

A short time later, police were called back to the area when there was a second call that the dog had returned.

"They were unable to locate the dog so they checked the area, cleared that call and apparently the dog returned so we got a second call; this time, they were out there and while they were out there the dog actually found them," said Canton Police Lt. Dennis Garren.

Video from a body camera worn by the officer shows the same dog coming out of nowhere and aggressively charging the officer.

"What I see in the video, I see the dog come around the corner and surprises the officer. The officer tries to retreat, backing up, all the while drawing his weapon, the dog continues to come at him aggressively and the officer has no choice but to fire a shot to protect himself," said Garren.

Video shows the officer firing the shot after which the dog turns and runs away, whimpering.

The officers follow in the direction the dog ran, encountering Brenna Rockwell outside of her Smith Avenue home.

Rockwell says the dog might have become loose when her children went outside to play and left a door open.

She describes it as a pit bull - black Labrador mix and tells FOX 8 News, the dog has never been aggressive.

"His name is Puppy and he's two years old. He's like my child; between me and my sister, we have been taking care of him," Rockwell told FOX 8.

Rockwell says Puppy was shot once in the front chest area. The bullet exited behind his right front leg.

She says she took the dog to a veterinarian late Sunday where it let the veterinarian treat it without using a muzzle.

Puppy was back at Rockwell's home on Monday, recovering and appeared to have almost no ill effects from the incident just the day before.

Rockwell needed to restrain the dog as it aggressively barked and growled at FOX 8's crew, but she said that was not an unusual reaction from Puppy to strangers until she settles it down.

After watching the police-worn video with FOX 8, a tearful Rockwell could not explain her pet's behavior.

"I don't know. Maybe he was scared or if he was, I mean, he plays like kind of rough. I don't really know. I've never seen him be aggressive and like I said, my family comes in and out of here, my friends, and we never have an issue with him," she said.

The city's dog warden was following up on the incident on Monday.

A Canton city ordinance prohibits dog owners from allowing them to run free.

"Our officers, obviously, they don't want to shoot an animal. We all love animals. It's just something he had to do to protect himself. I'm sure if he thought there were other alternatives to protect himself or anyone else in the area without hurting that animal, I'm quite sure that's what he would have done," said Lt. Garren.

Pickenbaum, who witnessed the dog going after the officers in the alley behind his home, says he believes they had no alternative.

"He had no choice," said Pikenbaum, adding, "If he wouldn't have shot the dog he would have got bit. That dog wasn't stopping."

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