Westworth Village police fatally shoot dog attacking another

Posted Friday, Jul. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Police officers shot and killed a dog in the backyard of a Westworth Village home Thursday, a move that police say was justified but one that was criticized by the dog’s owner.

John Cavazos said he held Pookie in his arms as the dog died.

“They shot my dog multiple times and left it for dead,” Cavazos said. “I had to call them back out to euthanize him.”

Westworth Village police Lt. Glenn Lippertt said that officers responding to a 911 call Thursday found a bulldog mix killing another large dog in the back yard of a home in the 5800 block of Straley Avenue.

The officers reported that the bulldog had broken a steel-cable tether and attacked the other dog, which was still tethered, Lippertt said.

The officers shot the bulldog twice with a Tazer and twice with beanbag rounds from a shotgun, trying to get it off the other dog, Lippertt said. When that failed, they shot it with a 45-caliber pistol.

Cavazos said he was at work when he got a call from his fiance, who told him he needed to come home because his dog had been shot. He said he arrived about 1:30 p.m. to find the bulldog “covered in a blanket, kicking and screaming.”

Cavazos said Pookie was an American bulldog mix and his other dog is a German shepherd mix named Dino. He said the dogs had a habit of getting into fights.

“They’ve been together for five years and they just get into it every few months,” he said. “We just have to hose them down and they separate.”

That’s what Cavazos’ son, Kameran Jordan, 7, and nephew, Jeremiah Smith, 12, and his father, Johnny Cavazos, were trying to do when the officers arrived. The 911 call that summoned them was made by former Westworth Village Mayor Jim Parnell, who lives next door.

Parnell said that he saw Jordan, Smith and the elder Cavazos trying to separate the dogs, and that he even tried spraying water on the dogs himself from the safety of his yard.

“The pit bull had Dino where he couldn’t get loose and was killing him,” Parnell said. “I knew Dino was going to die, so I called 911.”

Officers responded within moments, Parnell said, and were communicating with Johnny Cavazos.

“The police officer was saying, ‘What do you want me to do?’ ” Parnell said. “The man told the kids to go inside. I saw the officer pull his gun. He told me to get inside, because I was in the line of fire. I got my wife into the house and heard a pop. A little later I heard a pop-pop, and looked outside again. The pit bull was walking around, then he went after Dino again.”

Lippert said that what happened then was unlike anything he’s seen in his 18 years with Westworth Village police.

After the Tazer and beanbag rounds failed to make the bulldog release his grip on the other dog’s throat, the officers said the older Cavazos asked them to shoot it, Lippert said.

“One officer shot the pit bull once with a 45-caliber and it broke off from the other dog,” he said. “But then it rushed back in and attacked the other dog again. The officer shot the pit bull a second time, and it let go and laid down.”

About then, Lippert arrived at the scene and saw that the bulldog was down with two gunshots to its body, but not dead. He said that because the bulldog was suffering, he told one of the officers to shoot it again.

The officer fired one round into the dog’s head, Lippert said, and when the bulldog stopped moving, the officers thought it was dead and left.

When Cavazos called Westover police back to the yard, Lippert said he was shocked to see that the bulldog was still breathing.

“We called Fort Worth Animal Control, and they used four injections before it finally died,” he said.

Audio recorded by police during the incident confirms everything the officers reported, Lippert said. The two officers involved will not be identified until the reports are released Monday or Tuesday, he said.

Cavazos believes none of the police measures were necessary.

“My son knows how to deal with the dogs and had they not intervened with such disgustingly brutal force my dog would still be alive,” Cavazos said. “They took matters into their own hands. I held my dog in my arms as he died.”

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620 Twitter: @fwstevans

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