AUSTIN (KXAN) — A young girl is recovering after being attacked by the family dog in South Austin, Tuesday. Two Austin police officers were also injured while responding to the emergency call.
The dog was shot and killed by an APD field training officer who has been with the department for four years. Another officer, who has been out of the academy for only a month, was injured when hit by ricocheting bullet fragments.
At 6:15 p.m., officers were called to Powell Circle, just west of St. Edward’s University, for a report of a family member being attacked by a dog. Police say a young boy flagged down a passerby in the street and said his sister was being attacked. Officers say both children are under the age of 13 and the parents were not home at the time of the attack.
The officer who shot the dog has been placed on administrative leave, as is standard protocol following a shooting. “It does not rise to the level of what you would call an officer-involved shooting, but the level of investigation is similar,” APD Region 4 Patrol Commander Ely Reyes said Wednesday.
“Our ultimate priority is protection of life,” Reyes continued. “And when you have a pit bull-type dog that has already demonstrated his level of aggressiveness by attacking this little girl once who has visible injuries and then reengages with a second attack, and then proceeds to bite the officer as well, then the officer is going to use deadly force to stop that threat.”
Neighbors in the area say they didn’t know what was happening.
“At about 6:00, I heard really loud quick shots,” said Paul Robichaux. “When we looked outside there was a cop vehicle. Then we went outside and talked to another neighbor who told us what happened.”
The uncle of the young girl told KXAN the 2-year old pit bull has never done anything like this before. The Canine Center for Training and Behavior in Austin is not involved in this case but says there are many factors that play into dog behavior and all dogs will bite given the right set of circumstances — so it comes down to owner responsibility.
When a child is injured, Austin police say it’s standard protocol to notify Child Protective Services. A detective from APD’s child abuse unit has also been assigned to the case to figure out whether there was any criminal wrongdoing.
As for the officer who shot the dog, the internal affairs unit will make sure they were within policy and a special investigations unit will look into the officer’s use of force.
Austin Police get special training on how to handle situations with dogs.The training program started in 2012 after an officer shot and killed a blue heeler named Cisco. His owner was playing with Cisco in his backyard when an officer sent to the wrong address walked up and held the man at gunpoint. After the shooting, APD started requiring cadets to take a training course on how to deal with dogs.