Georgetown County authorities are investigating whether sheriff’s deputies violated any state or federal laws when they shot and killed an aggressive pit bull that wouldn’t stop attacking another.
Deputies said they had no other choice but to shoot the dog to protect a crowd that gathered nearby to watch the dog fight Wednesday. As in every use-of-force incident, sheriff’s Lt. Neil Johnson said, the case is under investigation to ensure that all policies and procedures were followed.
Deputies were dispatched to Apple Street in the Andrews community about 5:30 p.m. concerning two large pit bulls fighting in the road, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Carrie Cuthbertson said.
The fight started when an aggressive dog ran toward the other dog and its owner as they were taking a walk, Cuthbertson said. The owner ran toward a nearby car to escape the attack, according to deputies.
A crowd of about 10 children and two adults gathered to watch the fight, which Cuthbertson said had been going on for 30 minutes before deputies were called.
Deputies moved the crowd a safe distance away from the dogs and yelled at the animals to stop. When that didn’t work, deputies pulled out a Taser, Cuthbertson said.
The stuns stopped one of the dogs, but not the aggressor, according to deputies. They shocked that dog several more times, but it would not stop attacking, Cuthbertson said.
Deputies said they were forced to shoot and kill the dog. Its owner could not be located, Cuthbertson said.
“When deputy sheriffs are faced with a decision such as this incident, their decision making is based off of the immediate threat at hand, training and GCSO policy and procedures,” Johnson said. It would be premature to speculate on the deputy’s actions before the conclusion of the investigation, he said.