BALTIMORE - A Maryland police officer has been suspended without pay and will be charged with felony animal cruelty for killing a dog in Baltimore Saturday, department officials announced at a press conference Wednesday.
“We have no words to describe this. To say they’re were appalled at the allegations I think is an understatement.” Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said. "As we stand here before you the officer is being arrested for a felony charge.”
The Baltimore City officer, so far, has not been identified. Police did not provide any details about the officer's tenure with the department.
On Saturday, officers responded to a parking lot where a woman was bitten trying to help "a stray dog," police said. The dog however, wasn't a stray.
“It just kills me,” Sarah Gossard, the dog's owner said.
The officers contained the dog using a dog pole. The woman suffered a superficial bite to her hand.
Some time after, the officer killed the dog with a knife, police said.
The woman who was bitten was trying to help the dog. She urged police to call the dog's owner using the contact info on the dog's tags, according to the owner of the dog.
The dog was named Nala -- a 7-year-old Shar-Pei, according to Gossard, a 29-year-old living in Canton. Gossard described Nala as passive and non-aggressive.
“The first day I cried all day and night," Gossard said. "The next day I was very sad. Ever since I lived in this house she’s been with me. ... Looking at other people walking their dogs you can’t not think about it. I think it’s unfair.”
Gossard said she let Nala out in the backyard for her home in the 500 block of South Decker Avenue at about 6 a.m.
“When I went to let her back in she wasn’t there,” Gossard said.
Gossard set out to look for Nala in Patterson Park. Neighbors told her they had seen Nala walking about the neighborhood. Then a mailman told her he heard Nala had bitten a person near Brewer's Hill Pub. By that time however, it was too late.
“My dog was not aggressive and never bit anyone,” Gossard said. “I think it was more of a fear act than an aggressive act.”
Gossard and the woman bitten by Nala gave statements to police that corroborated the story.
It wasn't until 2:30 p.m. that she found out that her dog had been "euthanized," Gossard said, quoting Animal Control officials.
“She had been crying all day saying it wasn’t right what happened,” Gossard said.
Gossard was told by the woman that police kicked Nala and choked her with the dog pole. She said she was told there was a fear that Nala might be rabid.
“Police said she was foaming at the mouth,” Gossard said. “She’s a slobbery dog.”
At first she was told that the dog choked herself.
“I think it’s a major overreaction and a lot of assumption,” Gossard said. “Shar-Peis don’t look like pit bulls.”
Police launched an internal investigation and found that one of the responding officers used a knife on Nala at the scene.
“As the days go on I get more angry about it. I’m pissed off right now,” Gossard said. “I just don’t want anyone else to go through something like this.”