The owners of a pitbull shot by a Yellowknife police officer on Wednesday say RCMP have unfairly characterized their dog as aggressive.
Police said they had opened an internal investigation. In a statement, RCMP said the officer had “discharged his firearm at an aggressive dog” but did not provide further detail.
Lawrence Mantla and Lori Dashney told Cabin Radio the dog, Rocko, is being monitored at a veterinarian’s surgery overnight with a gunshot wound to the throat.
Mantla said Rocko is in no way an aggressive animal, insisting neighbours in downtown Yellowknife know him well and consider him gentle.
Mantla said the RCMP officer shot Rocko while Mantla was holding on to his dog, and alleged the police officer’s own dog – described as a German shepherd – had started the altercation.
“They’re blaming my dog for being vicious. I have had my dog for seven years and he has never bit an animal or a human,” said Mantla.
“Everybody knows Rocko. Children, grandkids, the neighbourhood. He’s the gentlest bear. And here they say he’s a vicious dog.”
RCMP did not immediately respond to questions from Cabin Radio regarding the circumstances in which the dog was shot, and have not provided a detailed account of the incident.
“The investigation is in early stages and there are no further details at this time,” read a statement issued earlier on Wednesday afternoon.
‘Now they’re blaming us’
Mantla said he, a friend, and Rocko had been outside on Wednesday morning when two RCMP officers and a dog appeared. The officers were wearing green tactical apparel, he said.
The police dog was on a long leash, Mantla said.
“My dog of course wanted to greet it. When he tried to greet it, the German shepherd jumped, Rocko ran right past, and the RCMP member starting yanking on their dog by the leash,” he recalled.
“That dog bit my dog twice, then my dog turned around and bit him on the lip, hanging on to the lip.”
Mantla said that while he went in to secure his dog by the chest and front leg as the animals tangled, the RCMP officer used the leash to control the other dog.
“RCMP said they were going to shoot my dog. I said, ‘No, don’t shoot him, I got him.’
“They shot him in the throat while I was still holding on to my dog. He shot my dog point blank.
“Their dog attacked my dog and now they’re blaming us.”
Rocko following Wednesday’s shooting. Photo supplied
Mantla and Dashney said the police had since been in touch to arrange a time for Mantla to provide a statement about what took place.
RCMP earlier said their general investigative service and a forensics team would be among those investigating what happened. It’s not clear why officers were in the area in the first place.
Meanwhile, Mantla said the vet believes Rocko’s esophagus may be ruptured. He and Dashney are making arrangements for the dog to be flown to Calgary for surgery.
“He’s so gentle,” said Dashney. “He wagged his tail one morning and his tail bumped our stainless steel kitchen island and made a noise. He was ready to run away. That’s how gentle he is.”