The owners of a pit bull who was shot by an officer in Fort Lauderdale after police said it attacked a K-9 Friday morning said they think the killing could have been avoided.
The incident happened in the 1500 block of Northwest 24th Avenue, when officers responded to an in-progress burglary at a nearby business, Fort Lauderdale Police spokeswoman Det. DeAnna Garcia said.
When the officers arrived, the suspects fled into the yard where the dog was, Garcia said. The officers were trying to catch the suspects when the dog attacked the K-9.
An officer tried several times to free the K-9 from the other dog but it didn't work, Garcia said.
"The officer, who was in fear for his and his K-9 partner’s safety, used lethal force to free his K-9 partner from the other dog’s mouth," Garcia said in a statement. She didn't say whether any suspects were taken into custody.
Antonio Spann, the pit bull's owner, said he had warned police about the dog and told them not to open the fence, which was chained and had a sign reading "Beware of The Dog."
"I hear one shot. 'Boom.' Then two shots, 'boom, boom'," Spann said. "That means he was shot again when he already down."
Spann's father, Anthony Sinkfield, said he tried to stop the officers.
"When they opened the gate, the dog rushed out and the officer ran out and before I could get outside to tell the dogs to go back, they shot and killed my dog," Sinkfield said.
Sinkfield said he'd had the pit bull, a 4-year-old named U-law, since he was a puppy.
"We raised them since they were puppies, they were like part of the family," he said.
Spann said to make matters worse, officers just left the dog laying on the ground.
"They left my dog there all night long, you're talking about cruelty to animals," Spann said.
"They didn't do anything, they just left my dog on the ground and left, didn't say anything to us, picked up the shell casings and just left," Sinkfield said.
A police department spokesperson said officers on scene offered to help with the removal of the animal, but the owner would not allow it.
Garcia said the K-9 was taken to an animal hospital and treated for wounds sustained in the attack.
Spann said he spent the early morning burying the dog before his children woke up.
"Of course I'm upset...he was doing his job, to protect the property," Spann said.