Off-duty police officer shoots, kills family dog in Ashtabula County

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CHERRY VALLEY TOWNSHIP - A family is grieving the loss of their dog after an off-duty police officer shot it, and authorities said it's legal. It happened after the family said the dog ran away from a home in Ashtabula County’s Cherry Valley Township on May 29.

Seven-year-old Toby, a German Shepherd mix, was a therapeutic dog for Rebecca McClure’s 4-year-old son with Sensory Processing Disorder, McClure said. McClure, an animal lover who works at a veterinary clinic, adopted the dog from a shelter.

Her relatives were watching Toby at their home when he escaped from a closed kennel during a thunderstorm, she said. Hours later, he turned up at a home down the street, dead, with a gunshot wound to his backside.

“It’s too hard to believe that someone would shoot him. He's nice; he's never going to hurt somebody. He has a collar on him. It's not possible,” McClure recalled thinking when she got the phone call.

Authorities said an off-duty Orwell police officer shot Toby then called Ashtabula County Dog Warden Donna Yan. A report from the Dog Warden’s Office states the officer claimed Toby growled at his kids and attacked his beagle. He stated he 'shot one shot into the air and when the shepherd would not retreat, shot the dog in the back hip.'

McClure said she finds it hard to believe the account of a dog she said had historically been gentle, and fearful of noises and men.

“Animals have fight and flight. He's not a fight. He’s a flight, completely. I can’t even see him being agitated to do that,” she said.

Yan delivered her report to Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci Friday. Iarocci said the shooter will not face charges, as Ohio law allows someone to kill a dog if it trespasses onto their property and threatens people or other animals. He said the case had few witnesses; only the shooter and his family.

“Unfortunately, from the way the law is written, there is nothing from a criminal standpoint that can be pursued in this case,” he said.

McClure said she hopes others think twice and call the Dog Warden before killing a beloved companion animal. She said the only silver lining is that Toby had a microchip, which allowed Yan to contact her and let her know what happened.

The officer declined comment to Fox 8 News Reporter Matt Wright when reached at his home Friday.


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