Dog shot in head by police lives; family can't afford vet care

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The family of a dog shot in the head by police Tuesday evening say the officer's use of force was too much.

The officer is still on active duty while the deparment conducts an investigation.

And the veterinarian who treated the dog recommends leaving the bullet where it lodged.

Sgt. Russ Boring with the Springfield Police Department said officers received a 911 call from a resident near 41st and Camellia in Springfield around 6:15 p.m.

The caller reported a pit bull acting aggressively in the neighborhood and running around the street unleashed.

Boring said the caller told police that the pit bull was acting in a threatening manner towards a young boy.

"It was aggressive enough to where there was a gentleman driving down the street who was honking his horn on his car, who placed his car between the dog and the boy, and ended up having the boy get in his car and drove him away from the scene," Boring said.

An officer responded to the scene. According to Boring, the officer tried to coax the dog back into the home where it came from.

At first the dog was friendly, Boring said, but then it became more aggressive as the officer tried to get it back on the property.

Boring said the pit bull "growled, it snarled, it showed it's teeth and it became pretty aggressive."

As the dog approached the officer, Boring said the officer believed he was in danger.

"He had to make a decision right there," he said. "I don't think a Taser would have been effective with this aggressive behavior and this dog. I mean, he felt that he was going to be attacked."

The officer shot the dog once in the head as other officers responded.

"The dog was basically at his feet when he shot the dog," he said.

The dog survived.

Breonna Kerr, Kiki's owner, said the dog is a rescue, and they've had it since it was a puppy.

The family was out for dinner when a friend called Kerr and otld her the dog broke free from its chain in the backyard and was loose.

"I pulled in my driveway and there were 5 or 6 cop cars," Kerr recalled, "and my dog was cornered in my driveway and she had blood, like a gunshot to her head."

Police and Kerr took Kiki to the vet.

The veterinarian who treated Kiki called where the bullet lodged "somewhat of a miracle for this dog."

Kiki didn't have a heavy active hemmorage and was discharged as stable patient who had received treatment, said Dr. Meg Schneck with the Emergency Veterinary Hospital.

The hospital donated services for treatment of the dog prior to discharge on Tuesday, she said.

Schneck explained that she wouldn't propose surgery to remove the bullet. She said her "recommendation is to leave it alone."

To remove the bullet, Schneck said a vet would have to use a bone saw and cut into fragile structures in the dog's head.

Even leaving the bullet in place, she recommened antibiotics and pain medications.

Kerr said her family doesn't have the money for Kiki's care.

"There's a chance that she could have to be put down or die from it," she said.

Kerr said they understand police officers need to protect themselves, but the family thinks the force was a little too excessive.

"People said she was trying to get back inside. This officer was chasing her and gunned her down," Kerr said. "That's my dog, and she's not just an animal. I mean that's a family member."