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Dog allegedly shot, young girl present

Sheriff’s officials say deputy was defending himself during investigation

Posted: November 28, 2009 8:29 p.m.
Updated: November 29, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
A sheriff’s deputy allegedly shot a pit bull Saturday morning, seriously injuring the animal after it had run away from a 6-year-old girl toward the deputy, a sheriff’s official said.  

“The dog was shot today,” said Sgt. Brian Allen, who withheld the name of the deputy. “I understand a little girl was holding the dog and the dog saw the deputy and charged away at the deputy.”

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputy was searching in Placerita Canyon, near the oil fields off Sierra Highway, about 10 a.m. for a burglary suspect when he encountered the dog, Allen said. He said the deputy was trying to defend himself.

The dog’s owner and young girl’s godmother, Saundra Macpherson said her dog was trying to protect her goddaughter.

Macpherson and fiancé, Michael Ditch, drove the dog to a vet before getting the name of the deputy.

The dog, a 5-year-old red-nosed pit bull, was apparently shot in her right armpit, Macpherson said.

A vet stopped the bleeding and gave the dog, named Honey Girl, antibiotics, Macpherson said.

“They shot my dog and she’s hurt and I can’t afford the vet bills,” Macpherson said. “They haven’t removed (the bullet) because I can’t afford it.”

The young girl’s father, who lives in a motor home next to Macpherson, said his daughter was physically OK, but he maintains his daughter was “in the line of fire.”

“My child was standing just beyond the dog, with about 8-feet between the two,” said Jared Smith, 50, who was inside his house when he heard shots fired. “She couldn’t hold onto the dog and the dog started going up to the officer.”

Allen said the deputy took “great precaution” before allegedly shooting the dog.

“He made sure the background was clear, not to have the girl in line,” Allen said.

The investigation was ongoing as of Saturday evening, but Allen said the deputy asserts he acted out of self-defense.

“If he doesn’t (shoot), the dog is going to bite and severely injure him,” Allen said.

Macpherson said she couldn’t understand why the deputy couldn’t use a Taser instead of a gun to ward off the dog.

“I don’t even know if he had a Taser,” Allen said. “When there’s something coming at you now, in real time, that could seriously injure you, it’s not wise to start small.”

“It’s a good way to get into the hospital,” he added. “Especially with a dog the size of the pit bull,”

Smith and Ditch went to the sheriff’s station Saturday evening but did not file a complaint.

Ditch said he was told that the deputy would be given their phone number and would be calling them.

“I just want the deputy to help pay for my dog’s bills,” Ditch said.

Allen said the investigation is being done by a field sergeant and reports will be filed to internal affairs, which submits information to all concerned parties involved.

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