Kootenai Co. deputies shoot pug snarling I-90 traffic

THURSDAY, OCT. 1, 2009, 3:43 P.M.

Sheriff’s deputies say they were forced to shoot a pug on Interstate 90 after they were unable to catch the dog during rush hour traffic.

Kootenai County sheriff’s Lt. Dan Soumas says officers from three agencies — the Idaho State Patrol, the Post Falls Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office — used food and entreaties to try to catch the little pug Friday afternoon, but the animal kept darting away from them, scampering into the 70 mph traffic and nearly causing several wrecks.

Some passers-by also stopped to help, and the officers even brought a couple of leashed dogs out of cars to see if the pug would come over to check out a fellow canine, he said.

“The first person on the scene was a state trooper, who said he needed more people out there before someone got killed,” Soumas said. “You could hear the cars skidding over the radio. It was at the peak traffic hour, and this time of year the sun is shining directly down the interstate — it’s just a really bad situation.”

Soumas said that when all their attempts to catch the dog failed, they had to make the call to shoot the animal to ensure the safety of the travelers on the interstate.

“Nobody wanted to do that — that’s the sad thing about it. While it’s tragic that we had to put the dog down, it would have been more tragic if someone got hurt or lost a child in a collision,” he said.

Law enforcement officers stopped traffic in both directions on the highway, and after failing again to catch the pug, they shot it.

“Frankly, we stand behind what we did,” said Soumas, who has a 14-year-old pet dog at home. “It wasn’t the most popular thing, and certainly we’ve received a lot of feedback, but I don’t really know what choice we had. The guy that actually had to take the shot feels really bad about it.”

Soumas said the deputy that shot the dog had recently taken his own dog to a veterinarian to be euthanized because the animal was in poor health.

Calls and e-mails have been pouring into the department since the incident from people furious that the pug was killed, Soumas said.

“We would have loved to catch the pug and take it to the pound — we do that every day, but it just didn’t work out that way,” Soumas said.

Soumas says the pug didn’t have a collar and its fur was matted, as if it had been a stray for some time.

No one has come forward to say that the dog was their pet, he said.

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