Deputy Shoots and Kills Attacking Pit Bull - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/05/05

Deputy Shoots and Kills Attacking Pit Bull

We're hearing a lot about dogs attacking people lately. But this time, it wasn't a defenseless child. The pit bull attacked a Chatham County sheriff's deputy. The deputy was talking to a couple people in a fenced-in yard on Chevis Road in Savannah, when the dog somehow got out from inside the house.

Wednesday afternoon, James Smith dug a shallow grave for his dog Mia. "That's like a part of the family right there," he said. "It's like my own kid."

Smith says it didn't have to come to him burying his pet. He understands why someone would shoot a dog that was attacking him, but thinks what happened Wednesday was overkill. "A dog's going to stop after you shoot one time," he said. "And maybe my dog would be alive if just one shot."

It all started when a deputy came to this house on Lorraine Drive to serve a subpoena. He was talking to two people in the side yard when Mia attacked him.

"It's my understanding the dog latched ahold of his leg from behind and wouldn't let go," Sgt. Thomas Tillman said.

The deputy fired five shots, killing Mia almost immediately. Smith says he thinks the deputy should have used mace first, but the sheriff's department says at that point, he almost had to use deadly force.

"I'm a dog lover," said Sgt. Tillman. "I feel for the owner, but when it comes to our officer getting mauled, you got to do what you got to do."

The sheriff's department has not released the name of the deputy involved in the shooting, but they said the bite was pretty deep. He is at home recovering this morning.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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