Pittsburg County Family Says Deputies Killed Pitbull Unnecessarily
PITTSBURG COUNTY, Oklahoma - A Pittsburg County family is upset after deputies killed their pit bull in an Alderson neighborhood southeast of McAlester.
Sheriff Chris Morris said his deputies did what they had to do to keep themselves and the community safe.
Morris said a call came into the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office last month about a mean pit bull.
The dog's name was Zeus. He was a hunting dog owned by Counts' son Justin Avery.
"He really was just a little lover," said Connie Counts. "He'd give me kisses and I'd give him treats."
She said her son had Zeus chained up in the yard, but thinks someone took off his collar, allowing him to escape through a hole in the fence. Counts said Zeus had never gotten out before and had never been aggressive toward people.
"Not one time had Zeus ever shown any signs of aggression. [He never] tried to bite [and wasn't] dog aggressive, human aggressive," Counts said. "I don't know what conspired that day, but my concern is there are other ways it could have been handled."
But the Sheriff said a woman reported a Zeus was aggressively chasing her during an afternoon walk in Alderson.
Two deputies were sent to the neighborhood to check it out.
Counts said when deputies got to the scene, Zeus ran back in the yard under a hole in the fence. The sheriff said when the deputies tried to patch the hole, Zeus got out again.
The deputies were picking up a chain link fence and that's when the sheriff said the dog came at them.
"Started charging them, the deputies tried to side step and maneuver away and of course they had no other option than to shoot," Morris said.
The sheriff said the deputies fired two shots.
"That was their only option. They don't have to let a dog bite them before they defend themselves," Morris said.
He said Zeus was going to die, so instead of letting him suffer, they put him down.
But Counts said that's what is concerning. She feels her son and a vet should have made that decision.
"They have him down, and after he's down, then they kill. That's a problem," Counts said. "Take the dog to the vet, don't kill it."
But Sheriff Morris said his deputies did exactly what they were supposed to do.
"If they'd just left and not tried to secure that dog and it had got out and attacked a kid and killed it, then we would have been in trouble. Then we would have had blood on our hands," Morris said.
The sheriff said that same day he called the dog's owner.
"[I] told him I was sorry for what happened to his dog. It's a bad deal. The deputies were upset about it," Morris said. "Nobody wants to kill a dog and they didn't go out there with the intentions of doing that."
"It's really sad. It really is because, yes Zeus was a hunting dog, but he was more than that. He was our family member," Counts said. "Nothing's gonna bring Zeus back...I don't want to see this happening to anyone else's animal."
The sheriff said if his agency had body cameras there would be no question about what his deputies had to do.
He's in the process of applying for grants to get body cams.