A South San Francisco police sergeant shot and killed two stray pit bulls that were ripping apart a cat on Saturday, saying he feared for his life, police said.
But the pooches’ loved ones are outraged by the killings, describing the pit bulls as “friendly” and “playful” and saying they “never once harmed anyone.”
“I’m devastated and broken inside,” said their owner, Holly, who declined to provide her full name for this article.
The pit bulls, a 7-year-old named Molly and 6-year-old named Sam, were rescue dogs, Holly said.
In the police report, the sergeant who opened fire on the dogs with a shotgun painted a different picture of the pooches’ personalities.
While driving his patrol car around 1:30 a.m., the sergeant spotted the unleashed and unattended dogs “running around on the street” in the 200 block of South Maple Avenue, South City police Sgt. Joni Lee said.
He temporarily lost sight of the dogs before spotting them again on a nearby street, she said. “He saw they were violently attacking a cat,” Lee said. “The dogs had parts of the cat in each of their mouths, pulling it apart.”
The dogs refused to release the cat and continued acting aggressively, leading to the shooting, Lee said. The sergeant, concerned for his safety and also for the welfare of transients known to sleep in the area, shot at one of the dogs, she said.
The other dog let go of the cat, then looked up at the sergeant, Lee said. The sergeant again feared for his safety and shot the dog, she said.
The sergeant shot one of the dogs twice after it didn’t go down, Lee said.
South City police are no longer investigating the incident, Lee said. The sergeant, described as a veteran on the force, remains on active duty, she said.
Residents who knew the pit bulls say the cop acted rashly when he shot the dogs. They say South City police officers need better training in how to handle stray animals. The department’s cops do not receive such training, Lee said.
According to Peninsula Humane Society spokesman Scott Delucchi said the South City police department deals with many stray animals and has had a reputable track record in its management of the incidents.
“Often times it’s a judgment call,” Delucchi said. “We just have to trust that the officer involved used the right judgment.” Lee said the dog owners have a responsibility to keep track of their animals.