Starke Commissioners Discuss Alternatives to Lethal Force Against Dogs

Starke County Commissioners Kathy Norem, Dan Bridegroom and Jennifer Davis

The Starke County Commissioners last night heard an emotional testimony from Jay Dollahan, a Knox resident whose dog had been killed by a Starke County Sheriff’s officer in September. Dollahan explained his dog had run out of his home and toward the officer to “check him out,” and he said his dog never would have bit the officer who approached his home to serve civil court papers.

Dollahan said the officer ignored the “beware of dog” sign and a number of other clues, including a large doghouse and chain, and proceeded up to the house rather than honking his horn or activating his sirens. Dollahan claimed the officer did not identify himself, but rather shouted, “Hey!” as he approached. The dog, which Dollahan said he had trained to open his door, then escaped from the house and ran toward the officer, who then fired at the approaching animal, killing it.

Although the commissioners have no authority over police protocol, Commissioner Kathy Norem said this could serve as a learning experience for county officials and police. Dollahan presented paperwork on what he called a “dog taser,” which he said could be used to non-lethally incapacitate a suspected aggressive dog with a modest cost of $85 each. Norem said the commissioners would discuss the possibility with Sheriff Oscar Cowen of finding other methods to deal with aggressive dogs.