A Howell Township Police Officer fired his weapon three times at a pit bull at a Susan Court Way residence on Wednesday night. The dog died on the way to a veterinary hospital in Tinton Falls, police said.
The officer was following up on a complaint phoned in to police some time earlier about an incident with the dog. According to Det. Sgt. Eileen Dodd, a visiting hairdresser said she was attacked by the dog when she entered the house, but came through with only a scratch since she was able to protect herself with her handbag.
The Howell police officer was planning to ask the pet owner for proof of rabies vaccination, a departmental procedure. But he states that when he started up the long driveway to the home owned by Nina Bisozio, the pit bull named Bentley George charged at him from an open garage and did not heed a command to stop. The officer shot three times.
"The officer didn’t want to shoot the dog," said Det. Sgt. Dodd. "But the dog was aggressive, the dog was charging, and I really don’t think he had any options."
A housekeeper telephoned Bisozio, who was not home at the time, and the officer explained what had happened to the pet owner.
The dog's owner is upset, according to a family friend who recounted the incident in a post in the Speak Out section of Howell Patch. "I'm heartbroken. He was like my kid. How do you kill someone's family member and not think twice before you do it?" said Nina Bisozio.
Det. Sgt. Dodd said that whenever a police officer shoots his or her weapon, the case is reviewed by a neutral party. The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office of Professional Responsibility and the Monmouth County SPCA have received official accounts of the incident.
This story includes reporting by Christina Johnson (Editor)