After at least 15 Delaware police and animal control officers spent 90-minutes trying to capture a pair of loose stray dogs at a busy Newark intersection, officers resorted to lethal force, running over the dogs with police cruisers. One dog escaped, injured, while the second was shot and killed after being struck by the vehicle.
Last Friday, Newark, Delaware resident Leigh Spencer, fearful that two dogs – a Shepherd mix and a Pit Bull mix – running loose in the busy intersection would be hit by a car, contacted Animal Control for help. Spencer told FOX29 that at least a dozen officers spent more than 90-minutes trying to corral the dogs with catchpoles, clapping and offering treats to lure them in.
Onlookers said the dogs, both of who were not wearing tags and, police said, appeared to be abandoned, were not behaving aggressively, but were clearly frightened by the ordeal. Spencer, an animal advocate who stayed on the scene to offer assistance, said that, despite the mayhem, one of the dogs made it over to her and put its nose into her hand before police brushed her away.
A Newark Police press release told a different story, claiming that both dogs were aggressive towards the officers by “sprinting toward them, baring their teeth, growling, and foaming at the mouth.
The press release continues, “three officers from the Office of Animal Welfare and more than a dozen Newark police officers attempted to corral and capture the dogs for nearly 90 minutes, using dog treats, catchpoles and other less than lethal methods to capture the dogs. The officers were not successful in capturing the dogs and the dogs continued to be aggressive and charge at officers and passersby.”
Police said that due to the proximity of a busy highway (SR 273), open businesses and foot traffic in the area, a decision was made in conjunction with officers from the Office of Animal Welfare to use lethal force to capture the dogs.
Because the 15 officers on the scene were unable to capture the dogs, Newark Police officers say they were forced to strike both dogs with their vehicles. The Shepherd-mix ran away after being struck and was not captured. The second dog, a Pitbull-mix, ran away after being struck and was then shot and killed by Newark Police.
Traumatized by the events that unfolded, Spencer told FOX29, “I was the one who called animal control and this was the outcome, so it’s really upsetting and sad for me. I feel horrible.”
Bystanders that had gathered to help catch the dogs were in tears as officers ran them down with their cruisers. “His tail was wagging. He was drooling a little bit. Really nothing aggressive at all,” SPCA employee Ashton Cleveland, who was off-duty but witnessed the events said.