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Deputies under fire for shooting dog

Deputies under fire for shooting dog

By Mike Mason. CREATED Jun 13, 2012

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Dozens of dogs shot and killed in Southwest Florida all at the hands of deputies. Four in your Corner uncovering the details as a Lehigh Acres family grieves the loss of their family pet, fatally shot and dying just last week. As investigator Mike Mason shows us, some people say the deputies were just too quick to pull the trigger.

This latest shooting has deputies coming under fire, accusing them of killing a dog that neighbors say was completely harmless.  3-year old Bradley is now learning his yellow lab named Dogie is never coming back home.

Christina Waggoner:  "He says, 'I want to pet Dogie. Where's Dogie?”
3-year old Bradley: "He's at the doctor."
Christina Waggoner:  "No, he's not honey. He died."
3-year old Bradley: "He died."

On May 23rd, while deputies were looking for the owner's ex-wife, a Lee County deputy claims Dogie became vicious and charged him; forcing the officer to shoot the dog in the face. Dogie's owner, devastated, says she asked the deputy why he did it.

Christina Waggoner: "Why'd you shoot my dog, that kind of thing crying and he goes, 'I don't have to deal with you ma'am and he walked away from me."

Neighbors say Dogie was a good dog and wouldn't hurt a flea.

Diana Thompson: "For them to say he actually showed his teeth and chased them I'm not buying it he's never done that."

Dogie eventually died on June 3rd.  The Sheriff's Office claims the deputy acted in self defense.

Lieutenant Larry King: "He felt he had no other recourse but to shoot the dog."

Fox-4 reviewed reports and found in the past 3 years Lee County deputies have shot 27 dogs including 9 this year.  They claim each shooting was justified. In one case, officers arrived to find a man stabbed several times. The victim told deputies, "He thought his dog had then bit the perpetrator.”  Officers say the perpetrator, or suspect, "Was found covered in blood and dog bites and his right hand and arm were still in the animal's bloody mouth." the deputy reports, "I approached the pit bull and fired three shots at close range into the animal's head."

That dog was apparently killed while protecting its owner. Christina Waggoner claims her dog, Dogie, was also trying to protect her family by barking at deputies and they had no reason to pull the trigger.

Christina Waggoner:  "He didn't ever do anything wrong, he's been around little kids his best friends are Chihuahuas next door, why'd you shoot my dog?"

The Sheriff's Office is reviewing this case and will soon decide whether to pay Waggoner's $3,000 dollar vet bill.