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ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage woman is accusing a police officer of unnecessarily shooting her pit bull mix.
The officer said the 95-pound dog lunged at him when he responded to a call of a woman being chased by a pit bull in Anchorage's Mountain View section.
Tyger, a pit bull and boxer mix, survived.
Stacey McCully, a 23-year-old accounting assistant, said Tyger is a gentle animal, although a bit hyper. She said the police officer overreacted when he saw the dog running loose.
Anchorage police received an emergency cell phone call Wednesday evening from a woman saying she and an Irish setter puppy she was walking were being chased by a pit bull that had escaped its yard. While on the phone with dispatchers, she ran in and out of nearby woods and was charged repeatedly by the dog, police said.
When officer Jack Carson arrived, the dog was gone and the woman was at an apartment. Still shaken, she asked for a ride to a bus stop.
In his car with the woman, Carson spotted Tyger in the street. The woman, whose identity could not be confirmed, told him it was the same dog that chased her, Carson said.
"At this point I didn't know if she was just overreacting or not (in her account of the episode)," said Carson, a dog owner himself. He said the woman had told him she had been attacked by a dog years earlier and was afraid.
When Carson approached the duplex where Tyger lived, the dog barked and ran for him, he said. The officer pulled his Glock .40-caliber and, when the animal was about 10 feet away, fired at its chest, he said.
The bullet went through the dog's right hind leg. It ran into its house, yelping and bleeding heavily.
A neighbor, Orville Benge, who was coming out of his house across the street moments before the shot was fired, said that he never saw the dog charge Carson and that the shooting was unnecessary. He said what he knew of the dog, it was an excitable, happy animal.
McCully said her dog has never been aggressive before. McCully, who recently moved to the neighborhood, said she didn't know he would jump the fence in his new yard.
Police said the action was justified because the officer feared for his safety.
"The fortunate part is the dog didn't die," said police spokesman Lt. Paul Honeman. "But the owner needs to be responsible and control the dog."
Honeman said using a baton or pepper spray, the other two objects the officer had on him, were not options. Pepper spray does not always stop aggressive dogs, and sometimes just agitates them, and the baton could have engaged the dog in a futile tug of war, he said.
Animal control spokeswoman Maria Martin said the dog is aggressive but not a danger to the community. As a result of the shooting episode, she said animal control issued multiple citations to McCully and her boyfriend for not restraining Tyger.