AUGUSTA, Kan. (KSNW) – A post circulating about a dog shot and killed by Augusta Police Department is going viral. KSN wanted to hear both sides of the story, from the police and the dog’s owner.
The dog’s owner, Alan Fitzgerald, is an army veteran suffering from PTSD. He says his dog, a black German Shepherd named “Midnite” helped alleviate his anxiety.
Fitzgerald says Midnite got out earlier in the day Thursday chasing after something, as he often did with rabbits and cats. Fitzgerald alleges that Midnite was down several mobile homes from his, where he was hovering over a smaller dog there.
“It’s how he plays,” Fitzgerald explains.
Fitzgerald says he talked with the small dog’s owner who he says said the small dog wasn’t hurt in the playing, just “shaken up”. Fitzgerald returned to his home to do yard work and was in the bathroom when he heard Midnite barking as well as gunshots.
“I got halfway out the door, and about right here where this crack is, there’s an officer standing with his gun pointed at me. I said ‘what are you guys doing here, why did you kill my dog?’ he said, ‘Get on the ground’, I said, ‘I’m not gonna get on the ground so I went inside and slammed the door,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald names several witnesses who say they saw officers enter the home which startled Midnite.
Augusta Police Chief Tyler Brewer said it isn’t so.
Brewer tells KSN that a patrol officer and an animal control officer were serving a notice to appear to the dog’s owner when the dog bolted out the door, startling the officer.
“He felt like his life was in danger. The officer didn’t have time to think about deploying anything like a taser or anything. The size of the animal, it’s not like a human, the dog was moving fast so deploying a taser isn’t something we suggest in this instance,” Chief Brewer said.
The two officers were going together to serve the notice because of the dog’s history, Brewer tells KSN.
“There’s instances where dogs have actually killed people, and I don’t expect them to be put in that situation. I also expect that people who own animals, they act responsibly. This dog, social media is saying the officers went into the residence. The officers did not go in the residence. We have other verifiable witnesses that say that’s correct, they didn’t go into the residence,” Brewer said.
A police report from April 2016 filed in Butler County details an instance where Midnite attacked Fitzgerald’s 16-year-old nephew after becoming startled. Fitzgerald’s sister explained to KSN that they had to file a police report to get an ambulance.
“They wouldn’t have even known that if my sister wouldn’t have been upset yesterday as soon as that happened and she was irate. I don’t know why she said anything but that’s neither here nor there,” Fitzgerald said.
Butler County Sheriff’s Office can not release the report because the victim was a minor, but they listed him as being transported to a hospital as “code green” following the attack which left lacerations on the victim’s face.
“Midnite did not attack him (nephew), intently. It was totally an unprovoked attack,” Fitzgerald said.
Brewer said the dog “charged the animal control officer” after officers knocked, startling the animal control officer and forcing him to fall off the porch on his back, hitting his head.
“The animal control officer tried to kick the dog away,” said Brewer. “The dog lunged in the air toward the animal control officer and the patrol officer standing by shot the animal.”
Brewer says the animal control officer faced minor injuries.
Brewer adds, the officer who shot the dog feels “terrible”, even losing sleep last night re-living it.
Midnite is being cremated, which Augusta Animal Center confirms to KSN that they are paying for.
Fitzgerald showed KSN an ADA card he says depicts Midnite’s service dog certification, effective in December 2016.
Chief Brewer says they cannot find sufficient documentation that Midnite is a service dog.
“We cant find any paperwork or indication that the dog is a service dog. We’re looking into that. There are laws in the state that misrepresenting a dog as a service dog is illegal so we’re looking at that. This guy could be facing other charges,” Brewer said.