Boise police shoot dog, hit car in process

Officers say the dog charged them as they approached to investigate a domestic disturbance.

krodine@idahostatesman.comJanuary 7, 2014 

  • DOG TAKEN TO VET, RECOVERING AT HOME

    A Boise police officer shot and killed an off-leash dog at a North Boise apartment complex in October. Police said the lab-pit bull mix, which had recently had puppies, approached them aggressively.

    Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said she’s not aware of any other such incidents in the past year, but an officer shot a pit bull that ran at him in April 2012, and there were similar incidents in 2011 and 2009. She said she doesn’t recall any such shootings in Boise between 2003 and 2008.

    In Nampa, police shot a pit bull-mastiff mix after it and another dog attacked an officer during a welfare check at its owner’s home.

    Caldwell police killed a pit bull in April 2010 while searching a house for drugs. According to police, the dog charged and barked at officers before it was shot several times.

The dog, named Skrappy Doo, was wounded in the shoulder and neck but survived and came home from the vet Monday, owner Russell Lortz said.

Boise police say the 75-pound dog ran aggressively toward officers as they walked up to Lortz’s trailer home on Patricia Lane. One officer fired five shots.

Three bullets hit Lortz’s Subaru, flattening both tires on the passenger side and hitting a door handle, he said.

“They shot my dog and killed my car,” said Lortz, who described the dog as a 5-year-old Australian Bandog.

The incident began about 10:15 a.m. Sunday when a neighbor called police, saying it sounded like a fight was going on and someone may be hurt. Lortz said his wife was having a panic attack related to her medication, had been crying out in the yard and then came back inside.

Accounts from Lortz and the police differ, principally about whether the gate leading to Lortz’s yard was open or shut when police arrived. Lortz said his wife had just been next to the gate and was sure it was closed. Officers reported it was open and the dog ran through it before they reached the gate.

Lortz, who was inside the trailer, didn’t see what happened but “heard gunshots go off in my driveway and my dog screaming.” From what police told him and evidence at the scene, he said he believes one officer opened the gate and startled Skrappy Doo, which in turn startled the officer, who ran toward the back of the Subaru.

“When he ran, the dog gave barking chase, his partner saw it and opened fire,” Lortz said.

Here’s what Boise police say: Officers arrived, parked nearby and heard yelling inside the trailer as they walked toward it, police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said. The Subaru was parked close to the gate, and as officers walked along the Subaru’s passenger side, a large dog ran out of the yard.

“The officers described the dog as growling and baring its teeth ... charging toward them and within just a couple feet of them both,” she said. “Both officers felt the dog was attacking them and about to bite them. Both pulled their firearms to defend themselves.

“One officer began to run and turned away,” she said, adding that the officer has trained with the BPD’s canine unit, including wearing a “bite suit” for training, and “knows when a dog is about to bite.”

“The second officer, also just feet away and seeing the threat to both himself and the other officer, immediately fired at the dog.”

Police reported that the dog was shot twice, and Lortz said that’s what he initially thought. But, he said, it now appears one bullet struck a bell on the gate, knocking it into the dog’s neck and causing a 2-inch cut. “He was saved by the bell,” Lortz said. “There was blood on the bell.”

Police gave Lortz a restitution form to fill out, and Lortz said his initial impression is that he will likely be reimbursed for damage to the car but not for the veterinarian bills, which run about $400 so far. Hightower said no such determination has been made, and the city’s insurer will decide which damages will be covered.

Lortz said Skrappy Doo still has a bullet near his ribcage but is recovering well and in good spirits, something he called “miraculous.” He said he doesn’t blame the officers.

“They didn’t come here to kill my dog. They thought my wife was in danger,” he said. “The officer who shot my dog did it to save his partner’s life. How could I be mad about any of it?”

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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