INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) – A service dog was shot to death in southeast Indianapolis last week, and the shooter is not expected to face charges due to local animal control ordinances.
The dog was a 10-year black Labrador Retriever named Clyde. The Mills family got the registered service dog primarily for their son, Mason, who has autism.
“He goes everywhere with him. Whether he’s riding a bike, playing with his hoverboard, playing with his friends — the dog’s right there,” said Heather Mills, Mason’s mother. “Dog even gets on the trampoline at 10 years old.”
Late in the afternoon of May 25, Mason and Clyde were playing in front of the family’s home. On surveillance video, Mason can be seen kneeling on a hoverboard in the driveway, going in circles. Clyde is visible in the front yard beyond the driveway.
A man is seen walking down the sidewalk and crossing the driveway, heading in the direction of the yard where Clyde is. After the man clears the driveway, it appears he and the unleashed dog see each other.
Clyde, moving in the direction of the man, becomes obscured by an SUV parked in the driveway. The dog comes back into view when he has passed the SUV. A neighbor who witnessed the incident said the dog was barking.
The man turns toward the approaching dog and reaches into his belt. It appears the dog and the man are 1.5 to 2 feet apart. Clyde’s front paws are on one side of the sidewalk, while the man is on the other side.
The man then reaches forward with a gun and fires one shot. Clyde drops immediately. The fired round struck the dog in the head.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Indianapolis Animal Care and Control responded to a 911 call from a neighbor who witnessed the shooting.
“It was senseless, and it was reckless, and it was heartbreaking. The dog was a really friendly dog,” said Scott Wechsler.
The man who shot the dog told an animal control officer at the scene that he did so because he “felt threatened.”
According to the animal control officer, the dog was found to be in violation of two Indianapolis ordinances: He was “at large,” or not confined by a fence or a pen. The dog was also not “monitored,” or on a leash or other restraint attended to by a “competent person.”
Law enforcement determined that the man’s actions were lawful based on the combination of those violations along with state law authorizing the use of deadly force to “prevent serious bodily injury.” No citations were issued.
The man was not identified, as he was not criminally charged.
Donna Casamento, CEO of Indy Humane, said it’s important that pet owners be familiar with local laws and ordinances.
“Those rules can have a lot of impact on their lives and the safety of the animals that they actually own,” said Casamento.
Meanwhile, the Mills family has started a GoFundMe in hopes of raising enough money to replace Clyde with another service dog.