Police have concluded their investigation of the shooting death of an allegedly aggressive 6-year-old mixed-breed dog on North Douglas. Animal Control issued citations to the owner of the now-deceased dog, and the Juneau Police Department closed its case with no charges against the young man who fired the shots.
Animal Control responded twice to a North Douglas property on Aug. 22 to deal with an aggressive group of dogs. When officers first responded, the dogs had retreated. When they returned, a dog was found already dead.
“The investigation revealed three canines were released outside unaccompanied from a nearby residence. The unaccompanied canines then roamed onto an adjacent property. Three individuals exiting a school bus were prevented from approaching their home due to the aggressive nature of the dogs,” read an updated release from Animal Control.
Official investigation further revealed that the dogs returned while the residents and their pets were outside, still behaving aggressively, and that one of the residents, a 15-year-old boy, “retrieved a firearm from from the residence and fired warning shots near the dogs. One of the canines, a 6-year-old Rottweiler mix, aggressively charged the group of juveniles. The Rottweiler mix was then fatally shot.”
The incident was reported to JPD. The release from Animal Control also noted the reportedly “aggressive dogs caused no physical injury to the residents or their pets.”
Lt. David Campbell spoke with the Empire about the case, which closed just after noon on Wednesday. The name of the shooter was not released because he is a minor and because no charges were filed.
“At about 5:03 (p.m.) we got a report from a 15-year-old who said that he had shot and killed a wild dog that was acting aggresive on his property,” Campbell said.
The young man reported that Animal Control had responded at around 4:30 p.m., but the dogs had departed.
“About 20 mintues later, the dog returned,” Campbell continued. “They were yelling at the dogs with no success, the dog continued to act aggressive. Looks like he went inside, got a pistol, continued to yell at the dog with no success, fired a warning shot, the dog growled and started coming towards him, so he fired and shot the dog.”
In its investigation, JPD spoke with both the shooter and the dog’s owner.
“In this case, the 15-year-old called to let us know he had killed the animal, and we went out to figure out what the story was,” Campbell said. “And we spoke to the 15-year-old, we spoke to his sister, spoke to the parents, spoke to the owners of the dog. Looks like the dog was habitually allowed to run loose, and even according to the owner of the dog, could be aggressive when they see guns.”
Bianca Erickson, the dog’s owner, said she had left the door of her home open for her two dogs, and a third she was caring for, to go out briefly. She expected them to return promptly but didn’t worry until she heard a gunshot.
“I heard a gunshot and freaked out,” she said in a phone interview. “I heard my dog yelp. A second gunshot went off, I heard a more intense yelp.”
She was out the door and looking for her dog by the time she heard a third shot.
“The third shot there was no noise,” she said. She called the fourth shot overkill and said “he never should have had access to a handgun.”
The handgun was a 9mm pistol, Campbell said. “It was the family gun.”
Campbell said the young man was described by his mother as “very responsible and familiar with guns,” she also said he was “experienced going out to the range on a regular basis.”
When asked why the young man would go into the house to retrieve a firearm and return outside to fire on the dog, rather than staying inside, Campbell said he had no idea.
“I don’t know how it all played out,” he said.
Campbell did say the young man “chose well in his backdrop,” because others were not endangered by the gunshots.
The deceased dog, Keet, was half Rottweiler and half German Shepherd. “That’s why everyone’s making him sound bad is because his breed,” Erickson said.
Erickson’s mother spoke highly of the dog, whom she and Erickson said was raised around infants and toddlers.
“Keet was a very good dog; my daughter raised him from a puppy,” wrote Ramona Perkins (Simmons). “My daughter was in a very bad car accident three years ago and broke (her) neck and she could not move for just about five to six months. The dog never left her side, he laid by her until she was able to get up and move. This was her security blanket. This was her child.”
Campbell said according to the reports it sounded like the shooting was justified.
“It sounds like the 15-year-old was trying to do the right thing ahead of time, and then the second time is when, again, they’re still trying to scare the dog away and (when) the dog became more aggressive is when they took their actions,” he said.
Erickson was cited by an Animal Control officer.
“She handed me a $50 ticket for dog at large,” Erickson said. “She’s basically having me pay for the bullets.”
Erickson also received two citations for failure to have a city license, one for her husky mix and one for the deceased Keet.
Campbell advises that dog owners not let their animals run loose — “Keep them on a leash and keep them together,” he said.