JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – On Tuesday, March 18, Region 8 News reported on the shooting of a black Labrador retriever in a Jonesboro neighborhood.
According to the initial police report, the man claimed the lab ran up "growling, barking and showing its teeth to his dog" which was on a leash.
Police said the man was within his rights because the lab was running loose. They also reported the man had a valid concealed carry permit.
Neighbors and Region 8 viewers were outraged by the shooting.
On Wednesday, Chief Mike Yates of the Jonesboro Police Department addressed those concerns in a letter to the media:
On March 15, 2014 JPD was dispatched to 4812 Lonoke Lane, Jonesboro, Ar. Regarding an incident where an individual shot a dog. The preliminary investigation revealed that the animal that was shot was unrestrained (not on a leash) and that the animal was on the property of another when it was shot. The individual who shot the animal stated that he feared for his safety and the safety of his dog when the at large animal approached him/his dog. He advised that the dog behaved aggressively toward his dog and that he shot the animal to prevent it from injuring his animal. The evidence, and statements made by witnesses support his account at least to some degree, yet some doubt remains as to the true display of aggression on the part of the animal. While it is impossible to determine his (shooters) state of mind or perception of fear at the time it remains unchallenged that he, the shooter, was on his family's property, with his animal properly restrained in accordance with the law and that the animal that was shot was not restrained in accordance with the law. Current evidence does not indicate that he violated any existing laws and ordinances. JPD has met with both the Prosecutor's Office and the City Attorney's Office to determine if there exists any mechanism to levy a criminal charge against this individual that would have any reasonable expectation of success and the answer is "no", based on the facts and circumstances as they are known at this time.
We, with the assistance of the Prosecutor's office, are currently exploring the nature and viability of the CCW license possessed by the individual in question. Given the outcome of this part of the investigation we will take any and all legal options available regarding this matter.
It is unfortunate and sad that an otherwise friendly, happy neighborhood lab would lose its life in this manner but we must operate within the confines of the law. We share the same concerns as the public, neighbors and the owner of the animal. A vast majority of the employees of JPD are dog lovers and many of us have dogs that we have "rescued" from animal control, some of us have multiple "rescue" dogs (I have three). I have personally suffered the loss of a female black lab (that looks remarkably like the one killed) when my dog was killed in the line of duty and frankly, I cried like a baby. Second only to the loss of a child, few things pull a dog lovers heart strings like the loss of a dog, especially under circumstances such as this. Was it the safest, best way to handle this on the part of the person who shot this animal? From most perspectives probably not but we cannot put ourselves in the mind of this individual or know his thoughts or fears at that moment. We do know that as owners of a dog, we bear a responsibility to restrain our animals, to both keep them safe and protect the public from them should they be a threat (real or perceived). We will continue to take all actions available to us to deal with this matter to ensure the safety of the public utilizing all avenues available to us.
Chief Michael Yates
Pictured: K-9 Officer "Sky" killed in the line of duty on August 9, 1995. According to Chief Yates, Sky was a rescue dog trained to detect narcotics, track and do article searches. She was killed tracking a double homicide suspect.