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Parker County family upset after deputy kills dog

07/27/2012 11:32 PM

08/03/2012 4:32 PM

This article has been modified from how it originally appeared in the Star-Telegram and on to correct how Danene Knox determined how many shots were fired at the dog.

A 90-pound yellow Labrador named Johnny Cash was killed this week by a Parker County sheriff's deputy who shot as the dog charged in his direction.

The dog's owners say the deputy overreacted, but Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said the deputy had no choice because the dog was "hellbent to eat him up."

Even so, Fowler said, "We're extremely sorry about what happened."

He said the deputy and the deputy's supervisor apologized to the woman, who told them that the dog had been "very aggressive the past two weeks and she didn't know why."

However, the owner, Sheyenne Knox, told the Star-Telegram that Johnny Cash was not dangerous.

The deputy, whom Fowler did not identify, was responding to a call from a neighbor of Knox's who reported that two large aggressive dogs were off leash on her property and that she was afraid to go outside.

When the deputy arrived, a "big dog jumped on the side of his truck, barking and growling. He couldn't get out," Fowler said. He waited for the dog to leave and talked to the woman, who said she believed that the dogs belonged to a neighbor a quarter-mile away.

The deputy called for a tranquilizer gun and went to the residence. When he arrived, he didn't see the dogs, so he walked toward the house to talk to the owner.

Fowler said the dog charged as the deputy approached the door.

"This 100-pound dog was hellbent to eat him up, coming at him, charging full speed. He was basically between the house and his vehicle, and he couldn't get back to his vehicle," Fowler said. "So the officer fired."

Knox said that she and her 7-month-old child were asleep when the deputy arrived and that the gunshots woke her. Outside, she found Johnny Cash dead.

Danene Knox, Sheyenne's mother, said her boyfriend overheard the sheriff’s deputy tell his supervisor that he fired his weapon nine times and that she saw six apparent gunshot wounds on Johnny Cash.

"I think it was excessive," Sheyenne Knox said. "I'm sure Johnny was running and barking. I've seen him do it a million times when someone pulls down the drive. But he wasn't running to attack or bite. He was a family dog."

Parker County requires owners to keep dogs contained or on a leash at all times. "If the dog was contained, we wouldn't be having this conversation," Fowler said.

Sheyenne Knox acknowledged that her family let Johnny Cash and another dog run free. But she said that she lives on 100 acres on a dead-end street outside Weatherford with only a few other houses nearby.

"I realize we were in the wrong by not keeping him contained," Sheyenne Knox said. "But he didn't deserve to get killed."

Law enforcement in Parker County has an affinity for animals and has a long history of helping them, Fowler said.

"It was just an unfortunate series of events," he said.

Staff writer Marty Sabota contributed to this report.

Alex Branch, 817-390-7689

Twitter: @albranch1

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