Pit bull’s death ignites Facebook firestorm

Police say the pit bull, named Caesar, lunged at an officer who was trying to serve a warrant. (Courtesy photo)
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HAMILTON, Texas (KWTX) An all-out war of words has broken out on Facebook after Hamilton police shot and killed a pit bull that authorities say attacked an officer who was searching for a suspect.

The officer was trying to serve a warrant Wednesday night in the 300 block of South Manning Street when the pit bull came out from behind a house and lunged at him, police say.

“My officer hit the dog with his flashlight to get him off and backed up when the dog lunged again, he shot at him but missed and fell back over a small concrete wall and down the embankment and injured his knee,” police chief Robert McGinnis said Friday.

“He couldn't move, he couldn't get up and called for backup,” he said.

Bobbie Bates and Ashleigh Quinlan, who were caring for the dog, weren’t home at the time, but when they arrived they say they asked to be allowed to go get the pit bull.

"I asked the officer to let me get him, he knows me and I can take him." Quinlan said.

But she said the officers asked her and Bates to move down the street from where they could no longer see the yard where the dog was.

"He was in his shed, put up when I left" Bates said.

She said she had let the dog, named Caesar, out just an hour earlier.

McGinnis refutes the claim, however.

“That’s just not true and they know it,” he said.

“The dog came out from a line of trees at my officer.

After the injured officer was taken by ambulance to a hospital, other officers turned their attention to the dog, McGinnis said.

He said they found someone who said he knew the dog and asked if he could try to calm the animal down.

“(But) when he got within five to six feet of the dog, the pit bull lunged at him so that's when my officer fired three shots into (the dog),” McGinnis said.

“When he was mortally wounded the officer fired one more time to put the dog down. It was the humane thing to do." McGinnis said.

Bates questions the way the situation was handled.

“Why didn't they let one of us to get Caesar instead of someone who barely knew him? He's never been mean or violent,” she said.

“He wouldn't lunge at the officer, he wouldn't do that,” Quinlan added.

Since the incident, Facebook has lit up with attacks against the police department, but McGinnis says the posts aren’t based on the facts.

“Everyone who says online they were witnesses are just not telling the truth,” he said.

“We live in a world these days (where) if it's on Facebook it must be true, but it's not."

Quinlan says police have had calls before involving the dog, but Caesar's caretakers say that's not true.

The officer whom the department declined to identify, is home, recovering from a bruised knee from the fall.