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Chief: Officer justified in shooting aggressive dog

A Batavia police officer did what he could to try and avoid shooting an aggressive dog early Saturday morning, Chief Shawn Heubusch said this afternoon.

The pit bull was shot and killed after becoming aggressive toward Officer Peter Flanagan.

Flanagan had responded at 1:37 a.m., Saturday, to a report of a barking dog at 370 W. Main St., Apt. 2, Batavia.

"He couldn't retreat any faster than it was gaining, so he had no other choice," Heubusch said. "He had to dispatch the dog."

The incident started with Flanagan arriving on scene to investigate the complaint and he found a pit bull leashed to the front porch.

"The dog was acting very aggressive towards him, not letting him go near the door, barking and snarling at him," Heubusch said. "He was finally able to get the owner of the dog to come out and she put the dog inside."

For the purpose of the report, Flanagan asked the owner for ID. She thought it was in her car. While she looked through her car, Flanagan allegedly observed a pipe containing marijuana in the car.

"It was in plain view," Heubusch said. "He was, 'OK, now I need your identification because we're going to address this issue.' "

When the woman tried to enter her house to look for her ID, the dog escaped, and off leash, was aggressive toward Flanagan.

Heubusch said the dog pursued Flanagan around the car. The officer tried using his flashlight to distract that dog, but that proved ineffective.

"A dog is not like a person," Heubusch said. "It's not just coming to get you. It's coming to do a job. We discussed the possible use of a Taser or pepper spray, but those have proven not to be effective. You can't guarantee your safety, basically. If you Taser a dog and it doesn't plant, it doesn't have an effect and you now have an angry, disoriented dog running free in the neighborhood."

Heubusch, who responded immediately to investigate the weapon discharge, characterized the response of the dog's owner, 29-year-old Ann Marie Capuano, as understanding.

"She was in fear the officer was going to get bit," Heubusch said. "She hadn't had this dog very long and wasn't familiar with the dog. She did indicate the dog has shown some aggressive behavior in the past."

Flanagan was not injured in the incident, Heubusch said.

This is the second incident reported in the city this summer involving an allegedly aggressive dog. A month ago, a Rottweiler on Otis Street, allegedly bit a child.

Asked if he had advice for owners of dogs that might become aggressive, Heubusch said, "If you have a dog that you know is aggressive, you need to get some help for that dog. There are plenty of places out there where you can get some training. The ultimate advice is, if you can't control the dog, you need to give the dog up."

Robert Yungfleisch
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Glad the officer is okay. He did the right thing.

Elizabeth Downie
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" Asked if he had advice for owners of dogs that might become aggressive, Heubusch said, "If you have a dog that you know is aggressive, you need to get some help for that dog. There are plenty of places out there where you can get some training. The ultimate advice is, if you can't control the dog, you need to give the dog up." "

Thank you for publishing that paragraph... most news outlets would not have done so to make the story more interesting. Yes, I agree, that in this instance, the Officer did the absolute right thing.

david spaulding
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kind of funny to me how you know the officer did the right thing when you were not there to see what happened........all we have is the officers word....and of course the chief is going to back his officer......the lady saying the dog has been aggressive in the past is the same lady with the pipe containing marijuana..........I do wonder how that issue was addressed...........
I too am glad the officer is ok,

Kyle Slocum
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-kind of funny to me how you know the officer did the right thing when you were not there to see what happened........all we have is the officers word....

Well, David, there are two things to consider:
1) The officer fills out a report with the threat of a misdemeanor charge (and loss of career) over his head when he writes it.
2) The Chief knows his officers. There aren't all that many of them, after all. This isn't an urban anthill.

-and of course the chief is going to back his officer......

I would hope so. Do you have any idea what happens in a workplace where the employees have no faith in their superiors backing their tough calls? That results in inaction and dereliction of duty as a self-preservation essential.

-the lady saying the dog has been aggressive in the past is the same lady with the pipe containing marijuana..........

People who use intoxicants get intoxicated. They also get sober when the drugs wear off. If a drug user isn't to be trusted to tell the truth, ever, then I guess when they are victims of crimes we can just tell them to go to hell: They are addicts, so who cares, right?.

-I do wonder how that issue was addressed...........

I suspect that she got a ticket for PL 221.05, Unlawful possession of marihuana. That is a violation with no possibility of jail.

-I too am glad the officer is ok,

All of us are. I'm glad your questions don't preclude your natural good nature and humanity.

Asking the question is the first step to learning what you do not know. It shouldn't be assumed to be an attack on the questioned. We are all are just smelly-assed human beings.

None of us know everything: Some of us know enough about a specific area of interest to be considered smart. Really, though, each and every one of us is an expert in something. Usually, that something is the thing that interests us the most.

Christopher Putnam
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Classic case of how a police presence always escalates things. Went from a barking dog, to shots fired. I have grown up with dogs, been attacked by a large dog a few different times, never felt the need to shoot it. The officer couldn't get back into his car and call animal control? Maybe hop up onto the car? Inside the residence? I find it hard to believe that a "highly trained" "modernly equipped" police officer cant find a better way to deal with an angry dog. Oh and hey pothead, unless your being charged with a crime, you dont have to show ID. Even if your being charged with a crime, you dont have to show your ID. SO next time, just say, "hey officer, i dont know where my ID is", and save yourself the trouble.

"Many people are surprised to learn that in New York State, you are not legally required to carry any form of identification at any time. That’s right--there is no law that says you need to have i.d. or show i.d. to a police officer. Officers who threaten to arrest you simply for not showing i.d. are trying to intimidate you. "

More than once in my life i have been stopped late at night( i work 3rd shift) and unreasonably questioned or detained by an over zealous officer that thought he could bully me. Once an officer watched me leave my workplace out the FRONT door, go to my vehicle and get my lunch, then on the way back into the building WITH THE KEYS IN MY HAND, ask whats in the bag, and can he search it. When i told him "my lunch" and made to walk away, he said "dont walk away from me, you DONT walk away from a police officer" Before he could exit his vehicle and "detain me" i had opened the door with the keys and pulled it shut behind me. He ran up to the door MAD AS A HATTER and demanded that i open the door, come back outside, let him search my lunch bag, or i would "regret it" I kindly reminded him(through the glass door) that i had not committed a crime, since i had not committed a crime he had no cause to detain me, and that i was going back to work now. . . so thats what i did, i walked away. Until and unless you commit a crime, the police have NO power to compel you to do ANYTHING. You dont have to speak to them, show them ID, you dont even have to acknowledge their presence if you dont want to.

However since your an irresponsible pothead that left your dog out overnight to bark like hell and wake all your neighbors, you may have earned the stupid you displayed so aptly. This knowledge is probably lost on you, but will be helpful to others i hope.

david spaulding
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kyle, did you forget your meds again?

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