VERMILION, Ohio – Christopher Shreves says he never would have believed his 4-year-old American bull terrier, named Baby, would ever maliciously hurt anyone.
“Friendly doesn’t begin to describe my dog. She was loving, compassionate and I mean, people don’t think of animals as having emotion, but you could see it,” Shreves said.
Baby was even beloved by a next-door neighbor, who describes her as playful and loving.
Late on March 1, Baby and the neighbor’s dog, a 9-year-old mixed breed, both squeezed under a back yard fence to get to a backdoor neighbor’s labrador retriever. Police described what followed as “chaotic.”
“You had a situation where you had three dogs that were attacking each other in the back yard of this gentleman’s house,” said Vermilion Police Chief Christopher Hartung.
Realizing what was happening, the owner of the mixed breed, who asked FOX 8 not to use her name, said she quickly jumped the fence to separate her dog from the others.
She said she was successful, but in the process slipped and fell in the mud. As she was trying to hold on to her dog, she said Baby started attacking her.
“She had her dog, but she was in the mud so she couldn’t get up so she’s trying to keep her dog away from her. And, according to her, Baby dog had latched onto her arm causing severe lacerations and shook her arm. She ended up sustaining a fractured arm from the attack,” Hartung said.
The woman showed FOX 8 some of the numerous injuries she sustained, including bruises and puncture wounds to her arms and both of her legs.
The owner of the labrador retriever took his dog and ran into the house where he called for help.
“At some point during the altercation, after he had freed his dog and then went inside, he said he could hear her yelling for help from inside. He just called 911, he didn’t want to be chewed up by either dog,” Shreves said.
In the meantime, the victim, still on the ground, said Baby also turned on her mixed breed, inflicting some very serious injuries.
Police responded and, although their protocol usually involves keeping fenced -n dogs where they are until the animal warden can respond, this situation was complicated by the fact that it was already after dark. They could still hear the woman who had been attacked screaming for help.
“Unfortunately, in this situation, and again when you have any type of use of force incident, you want to look at the totality of the circumstances,” Hartung said.
The responding officer described Baby as approaching aggressively and, under the circumstances, made the decision to shoot and kill her.
“We interviewed the witnesses at the scene to get their sense, because we are always cognizant to make sure these are justified,” Hartung said.
“I stand by them hands down. I don’t feel that that officer was wrong in shooting her. I feel that, in the moment given the variables put me in his shoes, I’m pulling the trigger. I’m going to do what I have to do to help that person,” Shreves said.
Vermilion police turned their reports and witness statements over to the local animal warden for a final investigation.
“You have to make sure that your animals are protected and secure because, unfortunately things like this, we hate to see them happen,” Hartung said.