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APD: Officer Not in Violation of Policy in Pit Bull Shooting

Andrew Weber, KUT News

An Austin police officer shot and killed a dog last night at a pet store.

At 7:30 p.m. last night, police say Officer Leslie Lyons shot a pit bull twice in an effort to save another a smaller dog being attacked at the Petco on Research Boulevard.

Assistant Chief Steve Deaton says Lyons was working overtime on a department-approved security detail when a 16-year-old girl brought her pet, a large pit bull, into the store, when it became aggressive with a smaller terrier owned by an elderly woman.

After an attempt from both owners to subdue their dogs, the pit bull broke free and began biting and thrashing the terrier in its mouth.

Lyons discharged her weapon once.  The pit bull did not stay down, and instead rose to continue its attack. She then shot the dog again, killing it. Deaton said the officer felt she had no other options, and that she is a dog owner herself.

“She’s upset,” Deaton said. “She’s an animal lover herself… and this is the last thing she wanted to do on this overtime assignment. But, we [have] to understand, it’s not about breed. The maltese has every bit as much of a right to live and not be injured as a pit bull does.”

Deaton added that the department as a whole is trying to avoid using lethal force against dogs by using tasers and pepper spray against threatening canines, but that Lyons did not break any departmental policy.

“We take these dog shootings very seriously and we know there’s a concern among the public that’s increased over the last year and a half. So every time one of these shootings occurs, it gets reviewed all the way up to the fifth floor by the chief.”

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