On Wednesday afternoon a Lancaster City police officer shot and killed a pit bull in a parking lot on West King Street. Sabina Mattern was heading home from an appointment and saw the dog before it was shot. “To me, the dog didn’t look like a threat,” Mattern said. She took a picture of the dog, which had jumped out of a pick-up truck and into the back of an SUV. “All they had to do was close the hatch of the vehicle.”
It is that same frustration that led dozens of pet owners to a park next to the Lancaster Police Department to protest what happened. Owners at the rally explained that their dogs can have the same emotions as us. When they are afraid, they can be intimidating, but owners pushed the fact that it does not mean the dogs are dangerous. However, the cops say the dog was acting dangerous enough to kill. They did not wish to go on camera, but did issue a statement saying that they used a snare and taser. When the hair on the dog’s neck stood up and it started growling at the officer, he shot it.
“It’s a split second decision,” said Kathy Speitel, a former Lancaster City Police officer of almost twenty years. “It’s not easy, I’m sure for the officer to do that, but you have to do what you have to do.” No one we spoke with was happy about the outcome, although the head of the Lancaster SPCA says it’s not all on the officer. “This all could have been completely avoided if the owner would have had his dog contained,” Susan Martin, Executive Director of the Lancaster SPCA, said. The police said the owner did eventually return to the parking lot and was informed of what happened.