News/Current Events News
Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
Published: 6/25/01 Author: Gloria Rodriguez
Posted on 06/26/2001 21:47:45 PDT by Joe Hadenuf
Deputies at wrong house kill family's dog
A family dog was shot to death in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood on Saturday morning by a Ramsey County sheriff's deputy when he and four other deputies tried to serve a warrant -- at the wrong house.
The deputies, who were looking for a man accused of forging a $3,000 check, reportedly felt threatened by the black Labrador retriever.
When they entered Charley and Beth Hatch's fenced-in front yard on Sherburne Avenue, they ran into Gwennie, who began barking loudly at them.
One of the deputies fired at the dog, killing her.
"I heard a bark-bark-bark, bang-bang-bang and yelp-yelp-yelp," said Charley Hatch, who was inside his home getting his two daughters ready so they could take Gwennie to a routine veterinary exam. Hatch saw the dog bleeding and five officers standing around "with a look of oh-oh," he said.
Hatch asked the deputies why they shot his dog and they said they felt they were in danger, he said. More than 10 neighbors gathered around the yard witnessed the scene.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher did not return a call to his home Sunday seeking explanation of the incident.
"One of the officers said this is known for being a bad neighborhood," said Frank Schwantes, who lives next door to the Hatches. Schwantes said he heard the shots from inside his home, then went outside to see what was going on.
The 7-year-old Lab was the family pet as well as the dog Beth Hatch uses for demonstrations when she trains dogs at her job at Dog Days in St. Paul.
"I can't believe a police office with four comrades felt threatened with a Lab," said Steve Schultz, owner of Dog Days. "She's a mellow dog, an unbelievably well-trained dog. Beth has her as well-trained as a K-9."
Schultz wondered why deputies didn't use pepper spray or something milder than a bullet to calm the dog.
The Hatches' three children -- Robby, 8; Kelley, 6; and Katie, 3 -- grew up with Gwennie.
"It shouldn't have happened," Kelley said. "She died saving our lives. She was barking to make sure we were safe."
Eric Torbenson contributed to this report.