Monday, August 9, 2010

Dog Killed by Sheriff's Deputies: Could it Have Been Prevented?


That's how Donya Williams of Forest Heights refers to her dog Kato. After the two-and a half year old Rottweiler was shot and killed by Prince George's County's Sheriff's Deputies on Friday, Williams says she'll never have another dog, because he was the best.
At a news conference in Upper Marlboro Monday afternoon, Williams said her dog was protective, but not dangerous, and she's angry that the animal was shot and killed. She described getting the news: "Acutally, they didn't have to tell me..the lady just dropped her head and when she did that...that was it for me."

In a news release, the Prince George's County Sheriff's Department explains the dog was killed during an eviction, and that Animal Control was called in, but that Sheriff's Deputies went in first, as they always do a security sweep of homes during evictions, which can become volatile. Williams says Animal Control staff should have been allowed to go in with Sheriffs' Deputies.

The Sheriff's Department says they were told the dog was often kept in a basement and was crated, and that they were taken by surprise when the dog, who was loose in the house, charged them. Williams says she did not routinely crate the dog and that because of the power outage of Thursday night, the windows of the home were open, and that surely her dog would have barked the moment he heard any knocking on the door. "He alerted them, he alerted them", she insisted.

Williams says her dog was protective, but not aggressive and was good with the family, including one of her sons, who is autistic. "We're talking about a dog who sang 'Happy Birthday' to my nine year old". She laughed when she remembered teaching her dog to say " I love you".

Williams spoke at a news conference in Upper Marlboro. Mayor Cheye Calvo appeared with her, and said since 2004, ten dogs have been shot or killed by Prince George's County Sheriff's Deputies, including his own two Labrador Retrievers, who were shot and killed in 2008. Calvo says the episode calls into question the leadership of Sheriff Michael Jackson, who is in a crowded field of candidates running for County Executive. Calvo admits to a political element to the criticism--he's backing one of Jackson's rivals, Rushern Baker- but says "Looking at the record of the Sheriff's Department over the last eight years is telling."

Jackson has said he will investigate the case involving Donya Williams and her dog Kato and says in recent years his deputies have been trained in how to handle dogs when on calls, including how to spot aggression. The deputy involved has been put on administrative duties while the investigation is carried out.

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