Kathy and Rodney Wyatt buried their 5-year-old blue heeler Australian shepard Thursday. The day before, Calhoun County deputies shot the dog to death while trying serve civil papers to the Wyatts’ neighbor.
The Wyatts say their dog, Blue Boy, was a well-trained thoroughbred, who used to herd cattle and did not have a history of violence. But a sheriff’s report stated the dog ran toward deputies in an “aggressive manner” prompting them to fire their weapons.
“When you unchain him, he is like a dog that has been chained. He comes running, but that is just the way he greets you,” Kathy said. “I do not believe he was going to do it like (he) was going to attack.”
The deputy was reportedly trying to serve a civil paper around 10 a.m. to a neighbor. The neighbor used to live at Wyatts’ address but moved one house down. Kathy and Rodney Wyatt were away at work and, when no one answered the door, the deputy turned to go back to his vehicle, Sheriff Larry Amerson said.
That is when the dog, who was barking, broke the chain it was leashed to and ran in the deputy’s direction. The deputy fired one shot, missed, and the dog ran away, Amerson said.
According to the report, the deputy contacted his supervisor, a second deputy arrived, and Animal Control was called to the scene. Amerson said the dog again displayed aggressive behavior, prompting deputies to draw their weapons, but the dog turned away and deputies reportedly withheld fire.
In the meantime, Blue Boy began chasing cars, but became distracted and returned to the yard according to the report. Amerson said as the dog came back into the yard a deputy fired again, striking Blue Boy in the hip area.
Animal Control officers and deputies teamed up to try to take the dog back to the animal control officer’s vehicle but the dog again growled, prompting a deputy to fire a fatal shot.
Wyatt said her dog was lively, but not violent. The couple thinks the deputies mistook the dog’s vivacious tendencies for violence and acted hastily.
“I’m very upset that it happened, but the way it happened, I think, was unnecessary,” Kathy Wyatt said. “They had no reason to do what they did.”
She received a call from Animal Control shortly after the incident and rushed home from her job in Gadsden. Kathy Wyatt said she knew Animal Control officers had Blue Boy, so she was not surprised to arrive home and find an empty yard, but at 2 p.m., she received another call notifying her for the first time that the dog had been shot and killed.
“It’s an animal, but it’s like a kid, too, and that was his baby,” Kathy Wyatt said of her husband’s relationship to the dog.
Rodney Wyatt told his wife he no longer wanted to live there after the incident. The couple began looking for a new home last night.
After reading the initial report, Amerson said he thinks his deputies followed the proper protocol.
“They’re trained to act in self-defense, and if they’re being attacked, they are authorized to use force to protect themselves,” he said.
Amerson also said it was an unfortunate incident and that deputies never want to harm someone’s pet.
“It is very upsetting to people when an animal they love has been killed,” he said.