A disabled man in Canada has revealed how his American Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross therapy dog, Missty, was shot by a Regina police officer when it was playing with a ball in her mouth.
The shooting is said to have taken place on Wednesday (August 15) at around 12.20pm according to police, where canine officers had been preparing for a training session in a fenced-off ball diamond at Rambler Park.
Lance Murphy, Missty’s owner, said he’d noticed a police presence in the area, but hadn’t seen any signs warning people to stay away.
In a statement emailed to CBC, Murphy said:
Missty is so amazing and loving, and loves everyone, and just wants to play. Of course, she was going to come towards you; she has a ball she wants you to throw for her.
Mr Murphy is said to have described throwing the ball a few times for the dogs before he noticed an officer heading his way:
He didn’t wave at me, didn’t shout at me. Missty, during the time she was coming back noticed the officer and proceeded to go towards him with her ball in her mouth.
I immediately started yelling ‘don’t shoot my dog,’ [and] ‘stop shooting my dog.’ He fired off two rounds at her at least, and it wasn’t immediately back to back BANG BANG, he had a pause in the shots.
Murphy revealed how the officer asked for his information, to which he replied:
He said this wasn’t an off leash park and I shouldn’t be here and this is still city limits. I said, ‘Do you have a heart? Do you own a dog? My dog is dying.’
The things people don’t understand is that I’m disabled and have been for 20 years. Missty is a loving dog that only aims to please.
She is basically a therapy dog to me and she is my everything.
Murphy said he was eventually allowed to bring Missty to the Regina Animal Clinic after ‘crying and begging’ the vet to save her life.
Speaking to UNILAD, Mr Murphy’s son, Lucas, said:
My dad is traumatized and suffering from the horrific event having nightmares and panic attacks. His dog is his everything and with him being disabled she really helps him in so many ways. So I’m glad she’s still around.
On Thursday (August 16), Corey Zaharuk, acting deputy chief for Regina Police Service, told reporters what their investigation into the incident had revealed so far.
Officers had been setting up a police dog training session when a vehicle stopped and a man released two dogs which started running off-leash near the ball diamond.
Zaharuk said an ‘experienced member of their canine unit, who’s handled and trained dogs for a number of years,’ approached the dog owner to ask him to put the dogs on a leash, or to leave the area. Although the officer was not initially concerned about the dogs’ behaviour.
Two dogs ran towards the officer, said Zaharuk, at which point, the owner started calling for his dogs – but they weren’t listening.
As the owner continued to call for the dogs to return, the officer began sensing very troubling behaviour from one of the dogs, that appeared to him, to be assuming an aggressive posture and circling him.
He said despite the officer continuing to move to stay in front of the dog, he feared an imminent attack, which may leave him seriously injured.
At this point, the officer drew pistol and fired two rounds into the ground at his feet, with Zaharuk confirming one bullet went into the ground, while the other struck the dog.
He also confirmed the dog owner was understandably ‘distraught’ and police, at the time of writing, have not had the opportunity to discuss the matter with him – although they have been in contact and will continue to talk with him over the next few days, apparently.
Zaharuk stated how he believed Missty was most likely a loving or playful pet with her family, but pointed out how the force’s experienced canine officer perceived the dog in a different manner in the moments prior to the incident.
The officer who shot the pet is not on leave and there has been no change in his duties.
The investigation is still ongoing and interviews with witnesses will hopefully determine if the use of force was appropriate, if officer coaching and training is required, or if the use of force was inappropriate and whether the officer should be subject to criminal charges.
Zaharuk acknowledged the reaction to the shooting had been an emotional once across the city, but called for people to stop speculating until the investigation had been concluded.
Speaking to UNILAD, Lucas told us how he feels about the police following the event:
I was raised to have the utmost respect for officers and what they do for us. It takes a special someone to wear a badge and protect us.
I have family members and friends who are police officers or retired officers and this one incident with one officer doesn’t define them all.
Since the incident, a GoFundMe page has been set up for Missty and her owners. They have a $6,000 target of which, at the time of writing, $3,686 has been raised.
The post on the money-raising site reads:
On Wednesday, August 15th, 2018 in an unfortunate chain of events, Missty, a three year old American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, suffered gun shot wounds by a local City Police Officer.
Missty took a bullet to her right shoulder that went through her lungs and had to be retrieved from her left shoulder.
She experienced severe bleeding internally that made it impossible to determine whether she would survive the night as x-ray showed only blood in her chest.
The post continues:
The bleeding has since been controlled but her shoulder is shattered and she is currently at risk of losing her entire right leg. Missty is a sweet natured, playful pup who is loved beyond measure by her family.
Though they would never ask for help themselves, I know Missty’s family is unfortunately unable to afford the cost of care and surgery already received as well as expected costs of further necessary surgery to either repair her broken leg or amputate it.
As someone who loves dogs and knows and loves Missty, I have created this GoFundMe just for Missty so those who would like to and are able to help this sweet pup may be able to come together to support her in such a terrible circumstance.
Despite the drastic difference in recall of the events that lead up to and surround Missty’s injury by the Police Officer and Missty’s human, Missty is an innocent victim of this event. Any funds raised will be explicitly used to cover the Veterinary expenses for Missty.
Concluding to UNILAD, Lucas gave us an all-important update on Missty and Lance:
Missty is on the road to recovery. We are blessed she’s alive. It’s unfortunate she needs to more surgeries and may result In the loss of her leg.
She’s at home now resting and waiting her next surgery where they will determine that. hopefully they both will be okay in days, months, years to come together.
I’m still shook up regarding the whole situation and you’d never think this would happen. My only worry is the family dog and my dad. It’s a very unfortunate event. I’m grateful Missty is still here.
Get well soon, Misty!
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
A sports enthusiast with a BA (Hons) in Sports Journalism, who can be found predominantly at Villa Park. Having completed a Masters in Broadcast Journalism, she then went on to work at Sky Sports, the BBC, and the Mirror. When not engrossed in sport, it’s animals, guitars, and Liam Gallagher which take main focus.