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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Attorney
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Experience:  Explains legal matters based on 14+ years experience.
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My dog, Eden, was an American Bulldog shot and killed by Jones

Customer Question

My dog, Eden, was an American Bulldog shot and killed by Jones County Sheriff deputy, XXXXX XXXXXttle Jr. on 5/25/2012. She was merely on my neighbors property across from my mothers home where they were kept confined since 2008. The deputy's prejudice against pit bulls lead him to react instead of investigate. He claimed Eden became aggressive after she was pepper sprayed, and began to attack him when he turned to enter his patrol car. Thus, turning to her with his weapon drawn firing one shot in which he claim was the shoulder. The Animal control officer was called after the shooting to find Eden lying paralyzed waist down still breathing. My dogs did not have a collar on them because they were fenced inside. It happened on a Memorial Day weekend, and I could not contact the Animal Control Office until Tuesday 5/29/2012. I have filed a complaint with the Sheriff's department, sent Eden for a legal necropsy. Should I file a civil suit or a criminal suit and post what happen?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 1 year ago.
Hi and thank you for using JustAnswer!

I am very sorry to learn of your loss. Please clarify: what was the deputy's dog-bite injury(ies)?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The Jones County Deputy suffered no injuries. My American bulldogs were fenced in a 10 X 10 on my mothers property. Prior to that they had full run of her back yard until the house caught fire Aug 2011, forcing me to put them in a small 10X10. I did not have them with a collar in their pen, and I did not have them with a microchip. Since 2008 they have only escaped the property twice. This last time they were on a parrallel street and the neighbor claim the dogs were aggresive to him and he called the Jones County Sheriff department. According to them, the dogs did not bite anyone, or destroy any property. Reportedly, they were barking aggressively at the other neighbors dog behind the neighbors fence. The deputy reported that the dogs approached him as he exited his patrol car to investigates the neighbors complaint. He then stated he attempted to close his patrol car door when the dogs approached him. He drew his pepper spray to shoo the dogs away is what he claimed. My male dog, Caleb laid down while the female Eden continued her approach then backed off. He stated he then turned toward his vehicle when Eden approached him aggressively, so he drew his weapon and fired. Hitting her in the shoulder. Animal Control was notified after the shooting to the scene. When they arrived on scene, ACO (Animal Control Officer) Jennifer, stated Eden was near death and paralyzed, but was still breathing. She stated that Caleb was stand offish at that point but he was captured and held at the animal shelter until Tuesday 5/29/2012. The ACO claim she did not have any knowledge of the owner, so she had to euthanize Eden. ACO Jennifer surrendered Caleb to my mother after verifying with my veterinarian that his shots were current. She later waived all fines and fees surrounding the event when she released Eden's body to me on 6/7/2012 We got permission from our employer in Dutch Harbor, Alaska to pick up Caleb from Macon, Georgia and bring him back with us on 6/12/2012. After speaking with Capt Mitchell of Jones County Sheriff, he felt his deputy responded appropriately. I asked him whether there were any reports of my dog biting anyone? Did the deputy have any training in responding to aggressive dog calls? Is the deputy qualified to determine an aggressive dog, or is their a hearing required? What is the departments policy for notifying Animal Control, and why didn't he wait until they arrive before conducting his investigation? Capt. Mitchell was unable to answer my questions. The ACO stated that Eden was found shot at the front of the neighbors car, and Caleb was found at the rear. That gave me the impression that the dogs did not approach the officer but he in turn approached them. ACO Jennifer claimed there were no records kept by her on her response to the call, nor did she keep track of what time she was dispatched, or what time she was on scene. If I wanted those records, I would have to go through the sheriff's department which she claimed she didn't have. I spoke to the clerk at the sheriff's department, and she claimed the person responsible for the 911 recordings was out of town. All in all, I am getting a run around from the sheriff's department to my veterinarian. My own vet documented that my dog was a pit bull until I showed him the certificate of her breed being American bulldog. I had them to correct all her records. Eden is currently getting a legal necropsy at Tifton University here in Georgia. They were sympathetic! I just want to know what recourse that I have in recouping my lost, and to have the department change their policy so that no other dog loving owner has to suffer such a lost as I have. Can you help me
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Have you obtained a copy of the police report(s) of the incident?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes, his Jones S.O. Incident Report reads as follow:
On 5-25-12 I responded toXXXXX in reference to some aggressive dogs. Upon arrival to the residence I made contact with two large pitbull dogs under the carport of the residence. The dogs came out and walked around my patrol and approached me on the rear driver side. I attempted to "shoo" the dogs away. The dog continued to approach me. I then discharged my O.C. spray at the dogs. They left the property and walked next door.

I next closed the door on my patrol vehicle. I walked about 10ft in front of my patrol vehicle to speak with the complainant Tirrell Lester. He stated that the dogs were aggressive with him when he attempted to come outside. He stated they also went to his neighbors
house at 146 and attempted to get at a dog there. He yelled at them to stop them from bothering the other dog. The dogs again turned their aggression towards him. He returned to his home.

The two dog returned back toXXXXXas I was attempting to return to my vehicle. The dogs approached me as I was walking towards my patrol vehicle. I discharged my O.C. spray at the dogs again. The black and white dog backed off. The all white dog continued to come towards me. I raised my duty weapon towards the god. It backed off some. I then turned an attempted to get in my Patrol car. As I turned my back the dog made an aggressive charge in my direction. I fire one shot striking the dog front shoulder area.

Sgt Walker was notified and responded to the scene. Animal Control was also notified and responded to the scene. Both animals were taken by Animal Control. End of his report

It appear to me that deputy Little baited Eden for the kill shot by turning his back knowing that would cause the dog to continue to approach him so he may claim he was being attacked while weapon drawn. My dogs have never bitten anyone, or destroyed anyone's property. Deputy Little took it upon himself to be judge, jury, and executioner of my Eden, merely because he misidentified them as pitbulls on the wrong property. A prejudice by the police here in the south that all pit bulls are aggressive animals, and should be registered as such. However, my American bulldogs do not fall on that list and were subjected to the ignorance of the law. Deputy Little's immunity in this incident appear to sit well with Jones County Sheriff's department, but I'm sorry for your lost is not good enough. There must be something I can do? My dogs were only guilty of escaping and venturing onto the wrong street and property by noon that day. My street, Spradley Drive runs parallel to Ruby Drive. My mother's house address is 134 and they were found atXXXXX They were trying to get home, and confused his property for my mom's that's all.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. How much did you pay for your Bulldog?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In 2007 we paid $900 dollars for an all white American Bulldog out of Texas. The going price for the same dog now is atleast $1,600. However, Eden was well trained and was ready to breed with Caleb, and the potential puppies I could have had with her were also lost with her death. Caleb is now six years old, and to have him wait three to four years for another puppy come of age to breed would be a stretch for him.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. An option to consider would be to sue the department in magistrate's court for the value of your dog. An overview of the magistrate's court in GA is provided at: http://www.georgiacourts.org/councils/state/index_testmagistarte.asp?county=1487&Submit=GO and http://www.georgiacourts.org/councils/magistrate/video.html

It has been my pleasure to assist you today with your information needs. It is my goal that you are satisfied. No expert can promise you an answer that is favorable to your circumstances. But I will do my very best to explain the legal principles that are related to the facts you’ve described so that you can better understand the “why” of things.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can provide to give you excellent service!"
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up with you to see how everything is going.

Did I answer all of your questions or do you seek additional information?

Please let me know if there is anything else I can provide to give you excellent service!"

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