WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A report of three dogs on the loose in a Warwick neighborhood resulted in two of them being shot and killed, according to city police.
Police said the call came in around 8:30 a.m. Thursday from a person claiming to have been bitten by one of the dogs roaming the area of Buttonwoods Avenue.
Officer Jeremy Smith and an animal control officer located the pit bull huskies on Keeley Avenue. As the animal control officer went to retrieve tools from his vehicle to safely take custody of the dogs, two of them charged at Smith, according to police.
Smith tried to retreat into the vehicle, police said, but fearing for his safety, he opened fire in an attempt to stop the attack.
Neighbors described hearing six to eight gunshots.
Two of the dogs—Peanut and Mia—were struck and died at the scene while the third—Snoopy—fled the area but is now home.
Eyewitnesses said one of the dogs did not die right away and a neighbor tried to provide aid until help arrived.
Kayla McKenna, a friend of the dogs’ owner, questioned the officer’s use of lethal force, saying she believes they were shot simply because of their breed.
“I’ve known both of them since they were puppies,” McKenna said. “I think, honestly, the officer saw that [Peanut] was a pit and got trigger-happy because, you know, that’s what happens.”
“It’s not even fair,” she added. “This is honestly police brutality, and I want whoever shot those dogs to be fired.”
The dogs’ owners – Tiffany Fletcher and Andy Lucini – said they’re still in disbelief.
“I don’t want anyone to feel like this,” Fletcher said. “This hurts.”
Lucini tells Eyewitness News his father-in-law was driving around looking for the dogs after they escaped from his fenced-in backyard. When he came across one of the dogs, Mia had already been shot.
“He went to get out of the vehicle and the officers told them, ‘No stay in the vehicle.’ The second dog was still alive and he said, ‘No, wait, what are you doing? That’s my dog! That is my dog, stop!’ then he hears pow-pow-pow,” Lucini said.
The couple described their dogs as loving and the characteristics being described of the dogs’ behavior before they were shot doesn’t match up.
“Our youngest son is 5 months old, he will sit in his walker and the dogs would walk up to him and start giving him kisses,” Lucini said. “It just doesn’t add up at all.”
The couple is now turning to police for answers.
“I want the truth. There are videos out there and I want to see them,” Lucini said. “I want to be able to see what actually happened.”
The couple is asking the person who was allegedly bitten to come forward and contact them. Lucini said the best way to do so is by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If they really did attack somebody, I will take full responsibility,” Fletcher said. “But I don’t believe for a second that they did.”
The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Warwick police at (401) 468-4200.