Youngstown police shoot dogs guarding puppies

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

The police department’s internal-affairs division is reviewing the shootings.

YOUNGSTOWN — Police shot and killed two dogs labeled as vicious in two separate incidents Tuesday.

In both cases, it was determined the animals were standing guard over fresh litters of puppies.

Last week, a woman living in the 3000 block of McCartney Road on the East Side told Dave Nelson, the Mahoning County dog warden, a friend had been attacked by a large pit bull that had taken refuge at an abandoned home in the area.

The dog had just delivered a litter of puppies at the abandoned house.

Nelson told police he had been trying to catch the dog for seven days but had been unable to get near the animal because of its size and vicious nature.

Officer Aaron Coleman and Detective Sgt. Ismael Caraballo walked to the rear of the abandoned home just before 3 a.m., and the dog charged both officers. Coleman fired two shots from a department-issued shotgun, killing the dog.

Nelson took possession of the puppies at the house.

The second shooting incident took place mere hours later in the area of Jacobs Road and Wardle Avenue, also on the East Side. Officers Michael Walker and Gerald Maietta were sent to the area at 8:20 a.m. to assist Nelson with “two large, vicious dogs” that recently had attacked an auto-salvage company employee.

According to reports, Nelson found the dogs at the rear of Mount Hope Cemetery and shot one of the animals with a tranquilizer dart, rendering the dog unconscious.

Nelson attempted to use a tranquilizer on the second dog, a large German shepherd, but the animal charged him in an aggressive manner, so he shot the dog with a firearm.

Walker, Maietta and Nelson searched for the animal and found it limping in a nearby garage. The dog ran into the garage and tried to conceal itself under a wooden shelf.

Maietta fired one shot from a shotgun into the dog. He fired a second shot, and the dog attempted rise and was shot again, according to reports. Maietta shot the dog two more times and was out of ammunition.

Walker shot the dog four times, then, police said, the dog charged officers. Maietta fired four rounds from another firearm as the dog charged officers, causing the dog to change course and run out of the building.

The dog tried to hide under a nearby patrol car, crawling along the underside of the car as officers tried to move the vehicle. Ultimately, Walker drove the car quickly away and Maietta shot the animal three more times with a shotgun before it died, according to reports.

Nelson collected the dog for rabies testing after learning the animal had bitten the auto-wrecking company employee. He also found, and took possession of, three puppies hidden near the garage the animal had run into.

The police department’s internal affairs department is reviewing the shootings.

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