Dog shot by police in Natrona
Khaos, a mostly brown pit bull named after an energy drink, was shot Sunday by a Harrison police officer who said the dog was attacking him.
The 2-year-old dog survived the gunshots, but a Monroeville veterinarian said it was in a great deal of pain, and it was euthanized at the request of its owners.
On Tuesday, owner Tracey Slee, 40, of Blue Ridge Avenue, Natrona and her son, 14-year-old Cody, also known as “Little Cody,” said they want the officer fired. They also are threatening to sue.
Police said the shooting was unfortunate, but justified.
By late Tuesday afternoon, almost 1,000 people had “liked” a Facebook page, “Justice for Khaos.”
Sitting on his porch on Tuesday, Cody had few words. He mostly shrugged his shoulders and gently wrung his hands.
“I miss him,” he said.
Tracey's boyfriend, Cody Chiappino, known as “Big Cody,” said the family isn't anti-cop.
“We're not cop-bashing. We like the other cops,” said Chiappino .
Police Chief Mike Klein declined to identify which officer shot the dog.
Khaos' confrontation with the officer apparently started just after 2 p.m., when an Allegheny County 911 dispatcher sent the officer to Natrona to check on a mostly white pit bull that was reported to be running free. There was concern for both the animal and for people, police said.
Tracey Slee thinks there was a “terrible misidentification.”
The dog had some white on his chest, but he was mostly brown, she insisted on Tuesday. At 40 to 50 pounds, Khaos was about the same size as the other pit bull, she said.
“It was mistaken identity,” said Slee. Her sister and next-door neighbor, Christina Hensel, 26, agreed.
Chief defends officer
Chief Klein said the officer saw a pit bull in the alley behind Greenwich Street just before 2:30 p.m. The officer said he saw children playing in a nearby fenced-in yard.
The officer couldn't see a dog license or rabies tag as the dog ran toward Blue Ridge Avenue.
The officer apparently didn't know it, but Khaos was less than 15 yards away from his home of the past year.
Klein said the officer drove to Blue Ridge at Philadelphia Avenue, got out and grabbed a catch pole snare with plans to catch the dog and find his owner.
But the officer had to use the pole to protect himself when the dog charged about 20 to 25 feet and barked at him before suddenly “lunging at the officer,” according to the chief.
He said Khaos circled behind the officer. The dog's teeth were bared and the hair was standing up on his back, Klein said.
When Khaos lunged a second time, the officer shot the dog twice, Klein said.
The officer “does not, and should not, have to bear the responsibility of waiting to be bitten under those circumstances,” this chief said. “It is situational use of force.
“And based upon the totality of the circumstances presented to the officer, he reacted in a reasonable and necessary manner.
“Procedurally and professionally, the officer did what became necessary but is now left to bear a burden that is unfair to him,” Klein said. “It is unfortunate. And while we feel for the family's loss, the ultimate outcome was unavoidable.”
Klein said the township's animal control officer is investigating further.
“It appears based upon current information, the dog was not licensed, did not have current rabies vaccination and was running at large,” he said.
Family's account differs
Khaos' owners and loved ones said they saw and heard something different.
“No one saw a capture pole before the shots,” Tracey Slee said.
“The pole came out of the trunk of the other police car after — after — the shots,” said Nathan Watkins, Hensel's fiance.
Hensel said she bought the dog in Clarion County about a year ago and brought it to Natrona.
“I had to give him up because I was pregnant,” Hensel said.
Her sister became its owner, but the dog almost immediately took to her son, Cody, more than others, the family said.
After it was shot, Khaos limped to his best friend and went around to the back porch of his house, where Cody put a blanket over the dog before taking him to the veterinary hospital.
Cody didn't want to go to school on Monday and it was hard to get him to go on Tuesday, Hensel said.
“He is broken-hearted. Khaos was his best friend. And Khaos was friendly to everybody,” said Hensel, whose other dog, a 150-pound Rottweiler named Captain, is now staying with the Slee family.
Captain and Khaos used to run around the back yard together, Hensel said. She said neither dog bothered Hennessy, the family's 3-year-old black cat.Dog got loose often
Hensel said Khaos had gotten free many times before. Each time, he ran home after a romp.
“This time, Cody was putting on his shoes when the dog was shot,” she said. “It happened that quickly.”
Hensel said she and Watkins were at a house up the street when they heard the loose dog complaint call on a police scanner.
“We ran over because they said it was a pit bull,” she said. “We ran over in about three minutes. And they had already shot him.”
Hensel is upset with the prospects of being charged by police for not having a license and rabies tag for Khaos.
“If the officer was afraid, why didn't he just get back into his car and wait for an animal control officer?” Hensel said. “That's the part that I don't get. We want the officer's badge pulled. He overreacted.”
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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