Society

West Virginia Resident: State Police Needlessly Shot, Killed My Dog

| by Jonathan Wolfe

West Virginia woman Ginger Sweat, 32, is furious after police fatally shot her 6-year-old beagle/basset hound mix, Willy Pete.

Sweat and her family live in the quiet Johns Creek area of Mason County, West Virginia, but the neighborhood was anything but peaceful on the day Willy Pete was shot. First, Sweat saw a car zoom down her street. Eight police cars and a helicopter followed.

Sweat soon learned police were in pursuit of Jonathan Jeffers, who allegedly threatened his wife and fired a shot from his gun earlier that day.

Sweat was putting her children down for a nap when she saw police in tactical gear coming out the woods, the Charleston Daily Mail reports. The officers had a police dog with them.

Sweat's hound mix was outside when the officers emerged from the woods, and the dog lumbered off the porch to see what was going on. Sweat says Willy Pete had arthritis in his legs and was not aggressive. Nevertheless, one of the officers pointed his gun at the dog.

“I ran out my door, jumping up and down screaming, ‘Don’t shoot my dog, he won’t bite, just let me get him in the house,’” she said.

The officer fired one shot at Willy Pete but missed. Sweat says her dog turned around immediately and started running towards her house.

“He ran towards me with desperation in his eyes,” she said. “They fired again in my direction, in the direction of my home where my kids were.”

The officer fired a total of four more shots at the dog. Three of them hit him. Willy Pete then crawled up next to an air conditioning unit and died soon after.

“I watched my dog struggle and then die,” Sweat said. “I collapsed in a puddle in the floor, screaming and crying. I watched that dog be born, and I watched him die.”

In addition to being furious about the police killing her dog, Sweat is angry that the officers fired shots towards her house.

“They shot toward my home with me standing there,” she said. “If they were here, why didn’t they notify us? I would have put my dogs up in my home. I want them to change their policies."

State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Baylous declined to comment on the shooting.

“It’s counterproductive, and it’s only serving to fan the tension,” Baylous said. “We have had several people responding to us in a very irrational way, and we feel that it’s counterproductive to comment further.”

The police never found the man they were looking for.