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Austin, MN officer shot pit bull; owner confused

This news story was published on December 3, 2012.
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Matt Peterson, Austin Daily Herald –

The owner of a pit bull is confused after an officer shot his dog Sunday morning following a fiasco that reportedly started with another dog chasing a bicyclist.

Police went to the intersection of 11th Street and 11th Avenue NW at about 8:30 a.m. when they received two calls about a bicyclist cornered by a St. Bernard. When the officer arrived, the St. Bernard ran. The officer went into a neighborhood where he heard barking in a backyard. While the officer walked near a home with an open gate, he then saw a man, Ben Clennon, opening a door and a pit bull charging from the home. The officer reportedly shot the pit bull in the face as it charged and jumped at him.

Clennon said he was about 10 feet from the dog and officer when the officer shot the dog.

“I was just completely shocked at what happened,” he said.

Clennon loaded the dog into his truck, as the officer immediately advised to take the dog to the Austin Veterinary Clinic. At the vet clinic, Clennon thought he signed paperwork to allow vets to help his dog, as the dog was still able to walk and respond to Clennon. However, Clennon actually signed paperwork to allow the vets to euthanize his dog.

“I didn’t know they were putting my dog down until they told me he was gone,” Clennon said. “I was just kind of an empty shell standing there.”

Clennon added he doesn’t blame the officer for reacting and shooting the dog; however, he wishes the officer would have used less than lethal force instead of drawing his weapon and firing in a neighborhood. Clennon said he is glad the bullet hit the dog instead of ricocheting or possibly hitting something or someone else.

The owner of the St. Bernard, who is as tenant at the same house where Clennon lives, was cited for having a dog at large and potentially dangerous dog. Clennon has not been charged with anything, and the police report has been forwarded to the city attorney.

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