Neighbor shoots pit bull. Dog owner gets citation

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Neighbor shoots pit bull. Dog owner gets citation

CREATED Nov. 26, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Here's a story that may make you growl for one side---or the other.
A man shot his neighbor's pit bull several times but Tucson Police didn't file any charges against him. 
They cited the dog owner instead because his dog was running free.
What's the law on all this? KGUN9 On Your Side found out.

The incident happened in midtown Tucson about a week ago, but after thinking about it the family of the dog owner decided to call KGUN9 because they think an injustice happened.
But police say based on everything they heard, it sounds like a case of self defense.

"When I think about the situation.  I just think of her and I smile because memories of her...come rushing back to me so...."
Chris Fitzpatrick is remembering his dog Blanca, a Pit Bull with maybe something extra mixed in.
A neighbor shot and killed her a week ago November 18th.
Police say the neighbor saw Blanca loose, and grabbed a flashlight and gun to protect his cat.  The neighbor told police the dog threatened him, so he shot her.
Fitzpatrick says there were five shots; and he's disturbed that neighbors reported hearing pauses between them.

"I think if a pit bull or, whatever, a dog is attacking you and you're started you shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot.  You don't shoot and then five seconds later, what, the dog runs off and comes right back...It just doesn't make sense."

"We did talk to one neighbor who did not want to appear on camera. He said the dog did get out from time to time but he never regarded the animal as aggressive."

KGUN9 News did try to reach the neighbor who shot the dog.  Chris Fitzgerald says the man wrote a letter to apologize but he doubts its' sincerity.
There are other local cases of people shooting pit bulls in the name of stopping an attack.

In October 2011 Tucson Police shot and killed two pit bulls attacking a man and his dog.
Last February, a neighbor shot and killed a pit bull attacking a woman and her dog.
Tucson Police say this latest case looks like self defense.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked TPD Sgt. Chris Widmer: "If a human is pointing a gun at you, that's a much more clear situation.  Is it any different when you have to sort of judge the threat something like an animal may present?

Sgt. Widmer says, "Yes it is different.  There's a lot that goes into it and in an investigation like this  there's totalities of circumstances in every investigation.  They're all separate.  None of them are the same. In this particular instance this individual shot his gun because the dog was attacking him and what message we don't want to send out is it is okay to shoot an aggressive dog, or it's okay to shoot a pit bull that's running around the neighborhood.  The only time this would be justified if if you feel you're going to be attacked and your life is in danger or you're at risk of serious injury."
It's usually illegal to fire a gun in city limits.  Sgt. Widmer says in this case, if the man missed the dog and any of the shots hurt someone or did some damage, the man would be responsible.