A California family was outraged to learn that an El Monte police officer shot their 2-year-old German shepherd while it was confined to their fenced-in front yard. The family was forced to put the dog to sleep after the injury.
A video taken by the family’s home security camera shows two officers park their patrol car and readily enter the family’s yard without paying any attention to the "beware of dog" signs posted to the gate. As noted by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, they also leave the gate open, which could have let either of their dogs out.
"I'm hurt that they would do this to my pet, but at the same time I'm angry because they act like they don't even care," Cathy Luu told the San Gabirel Valley Tribune with the help of a Vietnamese translator. "They didn't apologize."
El Monte police had a 3:30 p.m. appointment with Luu and her husband, Chi Nguyen, to discuss their teenage son, who had run away during the weekend. Because they were running late, the officers did not arrive until 4:30 p.m.
On the security footage, one dog approaches an officer and he appears to realize he should close the gate. As he closes it and while remaining outside on the sidewalk, the German shepherd runs up excitedly. It looks like the dogs are happy to have visitors. The officer, who are standing on the sidewalk, come back into the yard but obviously frightened of the dogs, goes back out again. The other officer, indientified only as A. Castillo, can be seen crossing the yard carrying her gun in her hand, presumably having shot the German shepherd, Kiki.
According to KTLA, the family, and especially their 11-year-old son was devasted at the loss of their pet.
"She was his baby," said the boy's mother. "He cried all night. He still cries. What if my son ran outside behind the dog? When I think about it, it's scary."
According to Capt. Dan Buehler, the El Monte police launched an internal investigation into the shooting. Beware of dog signs apparently do not apply to police officers.
"From reviewing the report, it's my opinion that the officer followed policy,” Buehler said. "They did go up to the front [gate]. There was a beware of dog sign of the gate. They did what we always do as police officers. They shook the gate. They didn't see any dogs."
Buehler suggests that the officers believed the signs were fake, and there were not any dogs in the yard.
"They looked for any signs of dogs — chew toys, dog mess, what have you," he said, noting they did not seeing anything indicating a dog was present. "They walked up to the porch. They rang the doorbell. They knocked on the door. That's when the first dog came around the house.”
He claims the German shepherd was more aggressive than the family’s pitbull and was growling and barking.
"As the dog got to about three feet of this officer, this officer had no other choice than to fire a round," Buehler said. The dog was hit in the side.
Luu said the officials originally told her the department would take on the expense of the dogs medical bills. But then a supervisor told her the cost of treatment outweighed the value of the dog and that she should just let it die and get a new pet.
The veterinarian told the family it would cost $7,000 to save the dog’s life. After spending $900 in treatment, they could not afford the surgery. She was euthanized to end her suffering.