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Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch is addressing a recent incident in which an aggressive dog was fatally shot by an officer Heubusch said was defending himself.

Officer Peter Flanagan responded to a home in the 300-block of West Main Street at 1:30 in the morning Saturday for a barking dog complaint.

Heubusch says the pit bull was aggressive upon the officer’s arrival.

“When he showed up there the dog was outside tied just outside of the entrance acting very aggressive towards him; wouldn’t let him to go towards the door, was barking at him, snarling at him, trying to jump at him,” Heubusch said.

Flanagan, Heubusch says, then needed to see the owner’s identification to file a report. After bringing the dog inside, the owner was retrieving the ID from where she thought it was inside the car when, “in plain view, he sees a marijuana pipe,” Heubusch said. “‘O.K., now I need your identification because we’re going to address this issue.’ She goes inside to get her ID and the dog escapes.”

He said the homeowner could not control the dog and the officer was the target of the pit bull’s aggressiveness. Heubusch said Flanagan tried to distract the dog with his flashlight first to no avail.

“The dog is growling, snarling. She tries to get the dog but she can’t. It’s no longer on a leash. It’s just free now,” Heubusch said. “It chases Officer Flanagan around the vehicle in the driveway and he couldn’t retreat any faster than it was gaining so he had to no other choice. He had to dispatch the dog.”

Heubusch said Officer Flanagan did the right thing to protect himself, based on protocol.

“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.”

“His use of force was appropriate. It’s standard procedure to go through the process. He was at that point where he had to use deadly physical force.”

Heubusch said the owner was “understanding” and was in fear of the officer being injured or bitten.

“She hadn’t had this dog very long and wasn’t familiar with the dog,” he said. “She did indicate that the dog had shown some aggressive behavior in the past,”

Heubusch says owners need to be able to control their dogs, or be realistic.

“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.”

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