A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a Spokane Valley man’s dog on Wednesday said he thought the animal was restrained by an invisible fence.
Deputy Ryan Smith killed the dog after it bit him twice, once on the left bicep and once on the right hamstring, a news release from the sheriff’s office said. The bicep wound required stitches.
The family that owns the dog said the dog was a 7-year-old named Cash.
Smith had gone to a home at 20215 E. Sprague Ave. around 4:50 p.m. to return keys and a hat left at another home nearby during an incident on Sunday morning. A resident from that incident dropped the items off at the Spokane Valley precinct. The sheriff’s office has a contract to provide police services to Spokane Valley.
Smith called the home multiple times prior to going there and, once there, sounded his horn to announce his presence, the release said. He saw two dogs barking on the east side of the residence, but since they were staying in one place, he assumed there was an invisible fence preventing them from advancing. An invisible fence uses buried wiring and shock collars to keep dogs within a confined area.
According to homeowner Brad Beck, Smith’s assumption was correct. Beck said at the scene Wednesday that the dogs were wearing shock collars and an invisible fence was in use.
Smith did not feel comfortable leaving the keys outside the home’s gate because he feared they’d be stolen, the sheriff’s office said. He decided to leave the keys outside a door on the home’s south side. As he walked toward the home, he saw a white line running across the driveway in front of the dogs and again thought they were restrained.
When Smith began walking toward the door, the larger of the two dogs charged him, the release said. Smith attempted to strike the dog with his baton, but it bit him on the leg. Smith backed away, tripped and fell on his back. The dog then bit him on the arm. Smith fired three rounds, striking Cash at least once, the sheriff’s office said.
Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service said the dog’s vaccination certificate lists the animal as a 75-pound American pit bull, the release said.
The family has disputed that, saying the dog was a Siberian husky mix. Beck on Wednesday questioned why the deputy didn’t use Mace on the dog and said the officer was trespassing and should have left the keys by the gate. The yard was marked by “Beware of Dog” signs.