Deputy shoots, kills pit bull in Fort Pierce

Posted at 10:33 PM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 23:38:29-05

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- A St. Lucie County deputy shot and killed a pit bull Tuesday afternoon, after investigators say the dog got loose from its backyard and charged at a woman with a stroller.

The dog was staying at a home along Juanita Avenue in Fort Pierce.

The owner of the dog says 18-month-old Zeus was a playful puppy and good with kids. He can't imagine the dog being aggressive or acting dangerously to the point where someone would need to shoot it.

Bryan Beaty, Public Information Officer for the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, says a nearby resident called animal control when the dog got loose around 12:01 PM.

Three officers arrived, and worked for more than half-an-hour to gain control of the dog, saying it was barking and growling at officers. At 12:47, officers called deputies for assistance.

Beaty says at 1:21 PM, one of the deputies fired two shots at the dog when it charged at a woman with a stroller.

Door-to-door salesman, Tanner Newton, was working in the area and says he watched the situation unfold. "A couple of times, I looked over there and [Zeus] was just walking around the car and [officers] were just standing by the road most of the time just waiting for him to do something it seemed like," Newton said.

As time progressed, he says the dog seemed more aggressive. "It was barking a lot. They were clearly having some trouble with it because they'd been dealing with it for like an hour," Newton said.

The dog's owner says Zeus had been staying with his ex-girlfriend for just a few days during the holidays.

He says the dog was tied up outside, but somehow got loose from its tether.

A St. Lucie County ordinance requires any dog tied up outside to constantly be in the view of the person responsible for the dog. The home owner was not home when Zeus got loose.

In St. Lucie County, dogs are also required to be on a leash off their owner's property. Zeus was shot in a neighbor's driveway.

Tanner, sad to hear the dog died, urges dog owners to be more careful watching their pets. He says he also relies on dog owners to be watchful to keep him safe on the job.

"There's no way that anyone out here could know if that pit bull was trained to be a nice dog or a mean dog," Tanner said.

Animal Control has not taken any other complaints about Zeus since his time at the home on Juanita Ave.