Mom: Derry police went too far killing dogs
By ELISE CASTELLI
Union Leader Correspondent
29 minutes ago
Derry — Days after police killed her pair of pitbulls, dog owner Carrie McGovern told the New Hampshire Union Leader she believes the force the officer used was excessive.
On Saturday morning, McGovern called police when 6-year-old Trouble attacked Tigger, 10, inside her home. Trouble then bit McGovern as she and friend Mary Mulone attempted to pull the collarless dogs apart, McGovern with her hands under Tigger's neck, exposed to Trouble's jaws.
The officer showed up at 9:23 a.m., according to police records. McGovern said he asked which dog bit her.
"Before he (the officer) fired the first shot, I told him not to shoot Tigger, just Trouble, because Tigger wasn't the one that bit me," said McGovern. "I told him to let me get my kids out of here."
McGovern said she was standing beside the officer at the threshold between her kitchen and living room, surrounded by four children between 7 and 12. They watched as he unloaded several shots from his handgun into each dog.
"It's a good thing none of my kids went to hide in the downstairs bedroom, because rounds went through the floor," she said. Only after the shooting did he tell her to get the children out of the house, she said.
Derry Police Capt. Vernon Thomas said yesterday the officer acted appropriately and will remain on duty. He refused to name the officer.
Thomas said the officer believed the dogs presented a danger to the adults and children in the home, noting that the dogs fell inches from where the officer was standing. Police are still investigating the use of force, he said.
Trouble was a visitor in the household. The younger dog came to the family in September after a friend needed a temporary home for the pitbull. While never aggressive with the children, Trouble was aggressive with Tigger, McGovern said.
Palmer put it more bluntly: "Trouble was trouble, period."
McGovern had already called police on Dec. 22, when Trouble attacked Tigger inside her home. McGovern said she asked police to remove Trouble, but was told it was a civil matter between her and the dog's owner. She said she feared the owner would have her arrested if she gave the dog to a humane society.
"If police thought there was a danger, then why didn't they do something about it on the twenty-second?" she asked.
Capt. Thomas confirmed police came to the house on the 22nd, but said police did not have authority because it was a civil matter.
McGovern's 77-year-old grandfather, John M. Palmer Jr., described Tigger as a beloved companion. Tears filled Palmer's eyes yesterday as he talked about the dog.
"He was like a human," he said, noting how Tigger would sit beside him in a car on trips to the bank. "When I drove up to the teller window, he would bark to let the teller know he was there and wanted a bone."
He added: "I can't sleep now because he's not there. He slept with me every night."
In a written statement, police said the officer who came to the house Saturday used his handgun to shoot one dog fearing injury to McGovern and her children, who where in "striking distance."
The second dog was shot and killed when police said it lunged at the officer in response to the gunfire, the statement said.
The statements in the press release came from reports provided by the family and officer, Thomas said.
However, McGovern, Palmer and Mulone said yesterday Tigger did not lunge at the officer, but staggered toward them, already wounded in the hindquarters.
"He was probably coming to Carrie or me," said Palmer. "I told the officer three times not to shoot Tigger. We pointed Tigger out many times; he knew which one was Tigger and which one was Trouble."
McGovern said although she understands the officer wanted to protect her and her family, "he disobeyed an order in our own house. If I knew he was going to shoot Tigger and disobey us, I would have shot Trouble myself."
Profound carelessness - among other things - lead to me to loathe police already. This, however, is an all-time low. The cops are out of control!