After a customer and two boys had left his store during Wednesday’s lunch hour, Marc Choquette, the owner of ElectroTech Company on Camden Place, heard a commotion just outside his business’s front door.
When he went to see what was going on, what he saw horrified him: the pitbull that lived at the trailer next door had broken its rope, and was charging the father and the two kids as they tried to get back into their pickup truck.
“The kids had gotten into the car and were yelling at their dad to get into the car,” Choquette told the Empire in an interview Friday. The father, whose name was not given, narrowly escaped what Choquette described as the “barking, snarling and snapping” pitbull, who then jumped up on the driver’s side door “still in attack mode,” Choquette said.
But what happened next was even scarier, Choquette said. As the father in his pickup truck tried to drive away from the business, which is located off Industrial Boulevard, he rolled down his window and asked Choquette if that was his dog.
As Choquette yelled back, “No,” the dog’s attention was re-routed — this time toward Choquette.
“At that time the dog had heard me out front, and spun around and headed right at me, barking and snarling and was on the attack mode,” Choquette said. “I ran inside.”
Choquette said he grabbed his 9 mm pistol, which he keeps inside his store, in case the dog attacked again. Choquette went outside once more to yell at the dog to leave and to get off his property.
But Choquette’s waving and yelling just seemed to irritate the dog further. It attacked again. This time, Choquette pulled the trigger.
The dog was hit at “point blank range” in its front shoulders/chest area, Choquette said. The shot wounded the dog, but did not kill it. It whimpered and limped away toward the wetlands.
Choquette ran back inside his shop and called 911. Police said they received the report at about 12:30 p.m. and helped Animal Control officers search for the dog.
Animal Control Officer Matthew Musslewhite told the Empire earlier that the search was called off in under two hours, but the dog made its way back to its owners. It was treated by a local vet and survived, Musslewhite said.
Knocks on the trailer’s door went unanswered Friday afternoon. The owner’s name was not released.
Juneau Police Department Lt. David Campbell said in a phone interview Friday that police investigated the incident and interviewed witnesses. After consulting with the District Attorney’s Office, JPD decided not to file criminal charges, Campbell said.
Campbell said the investigation revealed Choquette shot the dog in defense of his customers and others.
“We determined that discharging the firearm was a justifiable defense of self or others,” Campbell said.
Campbell said the pitbull’s name was Timmy. Choquette said he thought it was pit bull mix.
The Animal Control Department is still investigating the incident, Musslewhite said, and it is under their purview to make a recommendation to the city whether or not the dog should be put down.
Choquette said the customer who was run off by the dog drove back to the store — this time without his kids — very upset and gave his statement to officers. He estimated the man’s two boys were probably around 8 and 14 years old.
When asked if the dog should be put down, Choquette answered, “Absolutely.”
Choquette explained that about half an hour before the attack, the dog, then on a rope, had lunged at one of his employees.
Choquette was also worried the dog, who seemingly staked out its territory on Choquette’s property, would attack the next customer to walk into his store that day, or his employees as they returned from their lunch break.
He noted that about 10 minutes after the attack another customer came to his store — a man with his young daughter.
“It was just a matter of time in my mind before he bit somebody, and that is totally unacceptable,” Choquette said.
Choquette said he also was worried people might think him a “trigger-happy redneck,” or worse, a dog-hater. The born and raised Juneauite said, quite the contrary — and that he has doggy treats in his store for dogs that come in with their owners to prove it.
“I’m not the kind of guy to run around shooting dogs,” he said.
“This dog, there’s something wrong with him,” he added.
Choquette described the incident as crazy, and the dog as insane.
“Yes, the adrenaline was pumping, and yes, it was a bad shot,” he noted dryly.
But he said he was glad the dog survived. He just hopes the dog learned something from this, he said.
“We hope the dog will think twice before attacking anyone else.”
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.