UPDATE: Owner of dog shot by police responds - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Owner of dog shot by police responds

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

UPDATE: Most nights, Zachary Tolias walks his three dogs around his Waterloo neighborhood. Tuesday, one was missing.

"He has a drain tube for swelling and stuff, but the bullet went into his head, and lodged in the right side of his neck," Tolias said.

His pit bull, Gixxer, was shot by a Waterloo police officer Tuesday morning. The officer was directing traffic for the Tractorcade.

"He had multiple dogs come after him or come near him snarling, barking, and growling," said Dan Trelka, Waterloo Director of Safety Services.

Tolias said the dogs only ran towards the officer because they wanted to play, and that they've never hurt someone before. He said they're trained to stay in his yard, but the excitement of the Tractorcade crowds distracted them, and they ran.

He said he let them out, heard the shot, and came running. In the road, he found his dog, bleeding.

"I don't blame [the officer] for his actions," Tolias said. "Everybody has their owns levels of intimidation and being scared but his reactions was above and beyond what it should have been."

Police, on the other hand, say officers need to protect themselves when they feel threatened.

"With some dogs, especially dogs, once they have this pack mentality and if they're in that pack mode, if you pepper spray one or even try to taze one, that may enrage the others," Trelka said. "So what we've found is the firearm is the best tool."

Tolias said he thinks there is a stigma against pit bulls involved, and a misconception that they're more dangerous.

"I've been attacked by yellow labs, been bitten by rottweilers, been bitten by cocker spaniels," he said. "But I've never been bitten by pit bulls."

The dog is recovering, but Tolias said he plans to ask the city or police force to pay for the surgery bill, which are nearly $4000.


ORIGINAL STORY: What police are saying was a "pit bull type" dog was shot and injured by a Waterloo Police officer early Tuesday morning.

Officers were near the intersection of Longfellow Ave. and West Parker St. to direct traffic for the Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade in town.

"He had multiple dogs come after him or come near him snarling, barking, growling," said Dan Trelka, police chief.

The officer felt he was going to be attacked by one of the dogs, so he shot the dog. Trelka says his officers are allowed to shoot if the animal is dangerous. He says many factors are considered before shooting, like the size of the dog, whether there are multiple animals and how close they are getting.

"Here we had larger dogs. I mean these weren't poodles, multiple dogs snarling, growling. The officer did what he had to do," said Trelka.

Trelka says his officers encounter many dogs and how they react is all based on the behavior of the animal at that time.

"With some dogs, especially dogs once they have this pack mentality and if they're in that pack mode, if you have to pepper spray one or even try to taze one that may enrage the others. So what we've found is the firearm is the best tool," said Trelka.

KWWL's Nikki Newbrough contributed to this report.

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