Starke County Officer Shoots, Kills Dog – Second Such Incident This Month

The second killing of a dog by a police officer in Starke County has the community wondering why these incidents take place and what can be done to prevent them.

Jay Dollahan of Knox said his dog, which he described as an almost-two-year-old Old English Bulldogge, was killed by an officer yesterday when he had come to Dollahan’s home on 700 East to serve civil court papers. Dollahan said the officer pulled up to the home and noticed a “Beware of Dog” sign, but continued walking toward the home and identified himself as he approached.

At this point, Dollahan said his dog barked once and ran out the front door toward the officer. Dollahan insisted that the dog was not running toward the officer aggressively, but curiously – he said the dog only wanted to sniff the officer to become familiar. However, as the dog sped toward the officer, he raised his weapon toward the animal.

Dollahan said that he screamed at the officer not to shoot, saying the dog would not bite him, but the officer fired two shots at the dog, killing the animal.

According to a press release from the Starke County Sheriff’s Department, the deputy was in fear of his life because the dog charged out of the home, barking and growling. Sheriff Oscar Cowen and Chief Deputy Bill Dulin spoke to the dog’s owner and the deputy involved and concluded that the deputy was justified in shooting the animal because his safety was at risk.

However, Dollahan insists that his dog was not aggressive, and says the “Beware of Dog” sign should have suggested to the officer that he try a different means of establishing communication rather than approach the home.

“If there’s a sign that says ‘Beware of Dog,’ you have the equipment to honk the horn or turn on your sirens. If it’s not a felony warrant you’re serving – and usually if you’re serving a felony warrant you’re coming with a bunch of police officers – and all you’re doing is serving a court paper, shouldn’t you use your horn rather than get out and take a chance of a big dog coming and biting you?”

The Sheriff’s Department strongly encourages dog owners to keep their animals tied up or safely confined in the home. Dollahan said his dog was able to open the door and run out of the house toward the officer, and authorities suggest ensuring this does not and cannot happen to ensure the animal’s – and the officer’s – safety.