Richards says he was attacked by stray pit bull three times before he fired;
Dog Warden has received calls and even death threats from all over the nation
LOUISA, Ky. -- Lawrence County Dog Warden Bill Richards said today in a hastily called news conference at the court house that he was forced to shoot a stray animal last week but since a story from a Louisa woman surfaced on Facebook and YouTube about the incident, he has had dozens of calls -- and even death threats -- from all over the country.
Richards said he received a call on July 12 about 7:00 p.m. from the husband of Jessica Shane of North Locke Avenue saying there was a stray pit bulldog with no collar in his yard "growling" at his wife. Richards said he did not respond to the call that day but went to the residence the next day and found a young female pit bull (See video on Lazer front page) under an abandoned SUV with eight newborn puppies.
"As soon as I stepped out of my vehicle the dog attacked me and attempted to bite me," Richards said. "I guess I got a little too close at first but I saw that the dog was being held by a 15 foot chain but the chain broke and the dog chased me around my vehicle two times"
Richards said he knows the dog was attempting to protect her pups and he looked for a way to control the dog by getting hold of the end of the chain where it had broken, which he did and quickly jumped back into his vehicle. The dog returned to her pups at that time. "There was a neighbor out there with kids and the complainant also had her kids with her so I told them not to bring the kids close to the dog," Richards said. "At that time I got out of my truck and shot a tranquilizer into the animal which put the dog on the ground at which time I dragged the dog away from her puppies."
He then attempted to get his catch pole from the back of his truck to collar the dog, but the tranqualizer had apparently worn off and the dog attacked him for the third time and he used his .22 calibre rifle to shoot the dog between the eyes killing it immediately.
"I really wanted to take the dog to the animal shelter but I have the right both as a citizen and an animal control officer to protect myself, and that's what I did," Richards told The Lazer. "It was unfortunate but I felt I had no choice." He then took the nine puppies one of which was already dead to the Lawrence County Animal Shelter where they were euthanized by shelter officials because they were too young to survive, he said. Richards does not work for the shelter, he says, and it was not his decision to euthanize the dogs.
He said he took the chain back to Ms. Shane the next day and she asked about the puppies and he told her what happened to them. Before I knew it she had put it out on Facebook and put a video of the dog and pups on YouTube and I've been inundated with calls ever since. They have even called the sheriff's office and asked if they could file a criminal complaint against me when I was only doing my job."
"I support Bill (Richards) and the action he took," said Lawrence County Judge/Executive John Osborne at the news conference. "The dog was obviously dangerous to the public and he did his job."
But Jessica Shane does not agree.
Here is what she wrote to the website www.secondchancepet.org :
I have received many messages and calls about the dog that wandered in yesterday and gave birth to 8 puppies. I thought this was the best way to respond to everyone, or else I would be up all night. I'll just start at the beginning and tell the story of "Momma" and her babies.
She followed my husband home from work yesterday. We tried to make her leave but she wouldn't. Knowing the reputation of the breed, we called animal control. We got a voicemail box. We then called 911 and asked that someone come get her. They said they would dispatch the warden. We waited for a while and when nobody came, we decided to put her on a chain in our yard that way we could keep her away from our dogs and the kids until she was picked up. I gave her food and water and went back inside.
Around 9:30 or 10:00, I went out to check on her and to see if she needed more water. It was then that I saw that she had dug a hole underneath my neighbor's vehicle and had given birth to a few puppies. She didn't bark when I approached. She greeted me and let me pet her as she gave birth to another puppy. Jasper came out and watched with me.
There was one that wasn't breathing right off that I had to reach in and rub to get it to breathe. I handed the puppy to its mom and she cleaned it and it was fine. I called the animal shelter and left a message then that we had puppies. I went back inside for more water and went back out to find her struggling to birth her last pup. She let me rub her back with one hand and help pull the puppy out with the other. It was fine, she cleaned it up and looked up at me like she was thanking me. I moved her food and water close to the puppies so she wouldn't have to go far.
I sat with her and watched the puppies being cute and snapped a few pics now and then. After I was sure she had delivered her last puppy, and seeing that she was doing good, I checked the weather to make sure there was no rain moving in. I was afraid a storm would flood the hole and the puppies would drown. I saw the radar was mostly clear so I went to bed.
I set my alarm to wake me every two hours to check the weather.
I got up and went out sometime around 7/730. She was happy to see me. She licked my face and hands. The puppies were all doing well, moving around the hole Momma had dug. I kept picking them up and giving them to her when they would crawl away from her. She accepted my help gracefully. She was very sweet and affectionate, and showed a lot of love toward me and her puppies. I emailed someone I had adopted a dog from to ask for help. She was on vacation and she still emailed and called people to help me. The humane society doesn't adopt out pit bulls, but the were willing to take her in and let her raise her puppies there and worry about the breed later. They were going to give these dogs a second chance.
They were willing to help them find homes.
I stayed out most of the morning talking to neighbors, and warning those out walking their dogs that we had a pit with babies and to be cautious. I took my girls to the library for story hour and came back home to check on her. I called the vet to see if there was anything else I should do for them. I gave her some fresh water and food. I then left to go get my son at his dad's. I was gone for maybe 15 minutes, and came back to find the warden in my driveway. I told the kids to stay in the van and I got out to talk to the warden.
He looked at me and said "don't, just don't". All I wanted was to tell him the situation and that we had arrangements made for them. He then told me he had tranquilized her, and was within his rights to shoot her on the spot. He said she attacked him and chased him down the street, but she was on a 15' chain. She was still on the chain when he shot her. He pulled the stake up and took it with him when he put her body in a cage.
I wasn't here to see what did or didn't happen. I can't point a finger or say that no attack happened, because I am aware that the breed is aggressive. The pieces just don't add up. If he had waited til I was home, I could have moved her and the puppies into the crate without struggle. I know that she calms down very quickly and will comply if you speak in a soothing voice. The killings didn't have to happen. It could have been prevented.
I emailed my contact at the humane society and told them what had happened. I felt awful. I didn't know what to do. The warden returned to my house a short while later to return the chain and stake that Momma was on. I asked him about the puppies, if they were at the shelter, and he just said "they didn't make it, they died like their mom. Even with a heroic effort they would never have made it". He seemed so cold, and had a bit of a smirk when he told me.
I don't think she or the puppies got any effort from the warden. It was the end of the day, she was a pit, she barked at him because she was protecting her babies and he just didn't want to put forth the effort.
I heard from the humane society and they are as stunned as I am. They assured me that he does not work for or at the shelter, and that they do not operate that way. This was in no way their fault. The humane society was bending their policy and going to allow her to raise her puppies there and worry about the breed later. They were very helpful through all of this. The warden is employed by the county and his actions should be reflected on them and not the animal shelter.
It was a heartbreaking experience. I didn't have the heart to tell my kids the truth. They went to bed believing they had all been adopted. I really hate that things ended like they did. I have a small yard, with a dog outside and one inside. With three small kids I just couldn't keep a pit with 8 puppies in my back yard. I had no shelter to provide them. I wish I would have been home when the warden came, because I believe the outcome would have been different.
So, thank you to everyone that showed support. I wish that I could have done more. The kind words and concern really helps me cope with what happened here today. So I am going to bed now and wake up tomorrow and hope that nobody has to go through everything that we did. Thanks so much everyone! For everything. I appreciate all of the displays of love and the encouragement. Goodnight.
Richards said the calls he has been receiving are mostly from out of state people but he wants everyone to know his side of the story as well as what Ms. Shane wrote on the website.
"All I can say is that I was just doing my job, and I felt I had to shoot the dog or I wouldn't have done it," Richards said. "These things happen and it is my job to protect the public and myself from dangerous animals and that's all I did."