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News Nearby: Loose Dog is Shot by Maplewood Police on New Year's Eve

The dog, which is owned by a Maplewood resident, was charging the officer, a police report notes.

When Anna Ciaravino heard two loud pops outside her Maplewood home on New Year's Eve, she thought they were fireworks. 

But when she looked through her window, she saw a Maplewood police officer with his gun raised. She checked her fenced backyard, where Emmy, her 5-year-old German shepherd-mix dog, had been minutes ago, but she was gone.

"I went to the front door, my neighbor was knocking on it," said Ciaravino, 61, who lives in the 7600 block of Weaver Avenue. "I opened it, and there was Emmy in a pool of blood."

The officer had been patrolling the neighborhood when he saw the dog running loose in the street and front yards in the 7700 block of Weaver Avenue, said Det. Sgt. Matt Nighbor in the Maplewood Police Department's report of the incident.

When the officer pulled over, a neighbor told him that the dog regularly escaped his backyard and had bitten a child in the past, according to the police report filed on Jan. 4.

When the officer walked toward the house, the dog “began to bark aggressively and then charged at a full sprint directly towards the officer,” noted the police report.

The officer backed up, but the dog continued charging and barking, the report states. The officer thought the dog was going to attack him.

That's when the officer shot the dog. He shot the dog twice, hitting her in the face and front leg, from about four to five feet away, notes the report. After that, the dog ran back toward his home and collapsed on the front porch. 

"She had been in the yard for maybe 20 minutes - it’s fenced in back there," said Ciaravino, who adopted Emmy from the Animal Protection Association of Missouri in Brentwood about five years ago. "It was cold, so I was going to go out to get her and I looked outside and she was doing fine.”

But the whole incident occurred over the five minutes that followed, Ciaravino said.

Emmy survived, but her surgery cost Ciaravino $1,000. Now, days later, she is left wondering why her dog had to be shot. 

“What do they know about dogs?” she said. “Are they supposed to shoot, or use mace, or what? He should have gotten back into his patrol car if he was that scared.”

She's also concerned that neighborhood kids could have been hit a ricocheting bullet. 

Ciaravino received a summons last Thursday charging her with Dog at Large and No License.

According to the police report she is charged with Allowing a Vicious Dog to Run at Large, Failure to Confine a Vicious Dog and No Maplewood Animal License. She admitted her guilt about the animal license, but denies her dog was at large.

"She was on my property when he shot her," Ciaravino said. "There’s blood right out there to prove it."

The police report cites three previous calls regarding the dog. She charged a mail carrier on Feb. 8, 2012. Police received a complaint that the dog was loose on Feb. 18. On March 27, it reports that the dog bit a 16-year-old resident’s hand as he walked by on the sidewalk.

Ciaravino denies that her dog bit anyone.

"I know that a kid was frightened by Emmy, she was on her lead," she said. "There was no dog bite, and if there had been, rabies control would have been involved, and none of that happened."

She said her dog did charge the mailman, and he maced her. "That’s the only problem," she said.

Ciaravino said her argument is the cruel and unnecessary means of stopping a dog.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol's protocol would defend the Maplewood police officer's actions.

"They can use their firearm to kill an animal that is an immediate threat to any person or law enforcement canine," said Lt. John Hotz, information officer with the state highway patrol.

Ciaravino said the latch to the gate was not broken. "Unfortunately I did not push it in far enough," she said. "Huge mistake which will not happen again." She also said she plans to talk to a lawyer about the case this week.

"Emmy Lou continues to recover and seems to be her old self, minus some fur," Ciaravino said. "She is my protector, but she’s very nice."

Read the complete Maplewood Police report on the incident on Patch.

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