Fam­ily dog shot ‘do­ing his job’

Dog shot by po­lice was pro­tect­ing fam­ily, own­ers say

Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - Bethany Rol­ston

A Te Awa­mutu fam­ily whose dog was pep­per sprayed and shot by po­lice say the death could have been pre­vented.

But po­lice say the firearm was used as a nec­es­sary last re­sort.

At about 1.30pm last Thurs­day po­lice searched the Vanin fam­ily’s home on Ara­puni Rd look­ing for a wanted man whose car had been seen at the house.

The fam­ily’s 31-year-old daugh­ter, who is be­lieved to have con­nec­tions to the wanted man, is on drug charges and was bailed to the ad­dress.

Po­lice were search­ing the house with the help of the armed offenders squad (AOS) and an AOS dog.

They say dur­ing the search the AOS dog was ag­gres­sively at­tacked by the fam­ily’s dog, Sully, on the verge of the road. Sully, a 6-year-old stafford­shire-hunt­away cross, was one of the fam­ily’s four dogs.

He was pep­per sprayed and shot dead.

The AOS dog is re­cov­er­ing with fa­cial punc­ture wounds.

Po­lice ar­rested the 31-year-old woman for breach of bail.

Sully’s owner De­bra Vanin says the event was trau­matic and had taken an emo­tional toll on the fam­ily.

She dis­agrees with po­lice claims that her pet was ag­gres­sive.

She says Sully was shot on the fam­ily’s back doorstep of their house — not the verge of the road, as po­lice claim.

Waikato west area com­man­der in­spec­tor An­drew Mor­ti­more said in a state­ment the shoot­ing was a “very rare oc­cur­rence”.

“On this oc­ca­sion staff de­ter­mined the use of a firearm was re­quired, given that spray had not worked and the po­lice dog con­tin­ued to be un­der at­tack from the other dog.

He said the dog was shot on the grass verge at the front of the prop­erty and then moved by po­lice to the back door.

“Po­lice do not want to be shoot­ing or in­jur­ing dogs or any­one, how­ever the ac­tions of our staff are driven by the need to pro­tect their own safety, that of our po­lice dogs and the safety of the pub­lic.

“The de­ci­sion to use a firearm is never taken lightly by front­line staff, who must make quick de­ci­sions in dy­namic and ev­er­chang­ing sit­u­a­tions.

“This is al­ways a last re­sort and vic­tim sup­port has been of­fered to the dog’s owner as we recog­nise this is a dis­tress­ing event for them.”

How­ever, the fam­ily says it has not re­ceived vic­tim sup­port.

An­other of De­bra’s daugh­ters says Sully was act­ing on in­stinct.

“Our boy Sully did what any good guard dog would do in this sit­u­a­tion — he pro­tected his fam­ily.

“He fought with the po­lice dog — an in­stinct that any dog on this planet would have.”

She be­lieves the death could have been pre­vented by po­lice break­ing up the dog fight or us­ing a Taser.

“Is get­ting the job done faster more im­por­tant than tak­ing a minute to break up a dog fight caused by the po­lice in­tru­sion?”

“You may say that the po­lice were just do­ing their job.

“But so was our boy, Sully.” De­bra says the death of her dog was an un­for­tu­nate con­se­quence of get­ting their daugh­ter bailed to their house.

She says the fam­ily un­der­stands po­lice were do­ing their job in search­ing for a wanted man.

The de­ci­sion to use a firearm is never taken lightly by front­line staff, who must make quick de­ci­sions in dy­namic and ev­er­chang­ing sit­u­a­tions.

An­drew Mor­ti­more Waikato west area com­man­der in­spec­tor

Photo / Sup­plied

Sully, a 6-year-old stafford­shire-hunt­away cross, was shot by po­lice on Au­gust 16 dur­ing a house search on Ara­puni Rd.

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