LEBANON, PA (WHTM) – After police shot and killed a Lebanese woman’s dog on July 6, 2022, community members are wondering what happened. A public meeting was held on July 25, 2022, where about two dozen supporters showed up to demand answers from the mayor and the police.
The dog’s name was Gunner. Signs and shirts demanding justice for Gunner filled Lebanon City Council chambers on Monday night.
“I am appalled by the events of July 6 surrounding Gunner’s death,” Dr Diane Ford, owner of Vetting Zoo Animal Hospital, told council.
Police say officers responded to a call about a stray dog in someone’s yard on July 6. With no dog sitter available, police attempted to use a capture pole and taser to capture Gunner. However, police say they believed the dog was a threat to them and the public, which led them to shoot the dog once, killing it.
“We do it every day in our practice. If I shot all the dogs that came in, I’d be in jail. So they need training in basic animal behavior in addition to proper techniques,” Dr Ford added. “We offer to help purchase the appropriate equipment for the department as well as arrange appropriate training for your agents.”
Lebanon’s Mayor Sherry Capello says all resources and forms of assistance are welcome.
“We can all agree on everything we wish it could have ended differently. But we feel our officers handled it properly given the circumstances,” Capello said.
Capello said in 2019 there were 444 calls for help involving dogs, with 105 direct contacts and no use of force.
In 2020, there were 344 calls with 81 direct encounters without the use of force.
In 2021, there were 296 calls with 77 direct encounters and no use of force.
So far in 2022, there have been 144 calls with 37 direct encounters and two use of force incidents.
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Capello offered condolences to Gunner’s owners, the Shughart family, but the family says they don’t want condolences, they want accountability.
“I don’t believe a word she said. I don’t want an apology from him. I don’t want an apology from the city. I want three officers to answer my questions. That’s it,” Jackie Shughart said.
When asked if the city would publicly release the body camera footage of the officers involved, Capello said they weren’t releasing anything at this time for fear of a possible lawsuit.
“Give me another video to compare, but if you don’t, I see video. That’s it. And the video alone doesn’t justify what was done,” Shughart added.
Shughart says his attorney sent a letter with a list of demands last week to the city with 14 days to respond to those demands. Otherwise, Lebanon could face a trial.
“Let people say it’s just a dog. It’s just an animal. Great you think that but it wasn’t for our house. He was our family,” Shughart said.
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