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Vet offers aid in humane killing of dogs

Published: Fri, August 16, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

Two widely publicized recent killings of dogs by police prompted the suggestion.

SHARON, Pa. -- A Hermitage veterinarian has offered to show Sharon police officers how to shoot and kill vicious or threatening dogs in the most efficient manner.

Dr. Larry Stefanick made his proposal during a city council meeting Thursday, saying that he is willing to instruct officers where to humanely shoot a dog so that it dies quickly.

He appeared at the meeting with Gerda Widmyer, former head of the Mercer County Humane Society.

Widmyer, who has three sons serving on local police departments and is married to a former police officer, said she is concerned that police officers aren't trained in how to quickly and humanely dispose of dogs, warning that a shot to the head would make rabies testing on the brain very difficult, if not impossible.

Her visit was prompted by a few recent dog shootings by police officers, two pit bull terriers in Sharpsville in March and a German shepherd in Sharon in July.

27 shots fired

The dogs in Sharpsville were killed with a shotgun, but the officer trying to kill the dog in Sharon fired 27 shots from a handgun before the animal died. It's not clear how many times the dog was hit.

The latter shooting in particular caused some public criticism of the police department.

Stefanick said disposing of the animals quickly and humanely would help avoid such public outcries in the future.

Sharon Police Chief Thomas Burke said the officer involved in the July shooting first tried to contact the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter to come get the animal but was forced to destroy it before shelter personnel could reach the scene.


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