LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) — After police shot a Lebanon woman’s dog on July 6, 2022, community members have been left wondering what happened. A public meeting was held on July 25, 2022, where about two dozen supporters showed up demanding answers from the mayor and police.
The dog’s name was Gunner. Signs and shirts demanding justice for Gunner filled the Lebanon City Council chambers Monday night.
“I am appalled at the July 6 events surrounding the death of Gunner,” Dr. Diane Ford, owner of the Vetting Zoo Animal Hospital, said in front of the council.
According to police, officers responded to a call about a stray dog in someone’s backyard on July 6. With no dog warden available, police using a catch pole and a taser to capture Gunner. However, police state that they believed the dog was a threat to them and the public, leading them to shoot the dog once, killing it.
“We do this every day in our practice. If I shot every dog that came in I’d be in jail. So they need training on basic animal behavior in addition to the proper techniques,” Dr. Ford added. “We are offering to help purchase proper equipment for the department as well as arranging proper training for your officers.”
Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello says that all resources and forms of assistance are welcome.
“We can all agree everything that we wish this could have ended differently. But we feel that our officers handled it properly given the circumstances,” Capello said.
Capello said in 2019 there were 444 calls for assistance involving dogs, with 105 direct contacts and zero use of force.
In 2020 there were 344 calls with 81 direct encounters with zero use of force.
In 2021 there were 296 calls with 77 direct encounters and zero use of force.
So far in 2022, there have been 144 calls with 37 direct encounters and two use of force incidents.
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Capello extended her condolences to Gunner’s owners, the Shughart family, but the family says they don’t want condolences, they want accountability.
“I don’t believe a word she said. I don’t want no apologies from her. I don’t want apologies from the city. I want three officers to answer my questions. That’s it,” said Jackie Shughart.
Asked if the city will publicly release body camera footage from the involved officers, Capello said they aren’t releasing anything right now in fear of a potential lawsuit.
“Give me another video to compare but if you don’t I see one video. That’s it. And the one video doesn’t justify what was done,” Shughart added.
Shugart says her lawyer sent a letter with a list of demands last week to the city with 14 days to meet those demands. If not, Lebanon could be facing a lawsuit.
“For people to say it’s just a dog. It’s just an animal. Great you think that but it wasn’t for our house. He was our family,” Shughart said.
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