Dog fight leads to deputy shooting pet

Incident under investigation

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Courtesy photo/Nick Criscuolo
Grant County sheriff's deputies and Moses Lake police are investigating an incident involving a deputy shooting a dog Sunday afternoon in Moses Lake.

MOSES LAKE — A Grant County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a dog while it allegedly attacked the sheriff’s office K-9 dog Sunday afternoon in Moses Lake.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Moses Lake Police Department requested the sheriff’s office K-9 unit during a traffic stop to check for drugs in a vehicle on West Broadway Avenue, behind Danny’s Tavern, Grant County Undersheriff John Turley said.

Deputy Beau Lamens arrived with drug dog Maddox, a golden Labrador retriever. He allowed the dog out of his vehicle on a leash, Turley said. Another deputy was with Lamens, while a third interacted with the vehicle they pulled over.

When Lamens prepared to bring the dog to the vehicle for drug detection, Nick Criscuolo was in Neppel Park with two dogs off their leashes.

According to the deputies, one of the unleashed dogs charged toward Maddox.

Criscuolo said the dog that ran toward Maddox was his 7-year-old Labrador retriever named Slyder. He explained Slyder as primarily Labrador with Newfoundland, rottweiler and possibly pit bull mixed into the breed.

The deputies reported Criscuolo managed to grab one of the dogs but was unsuccessful grabbing Slyder as he ran toward Maddox. The deputies reported Slyder attacked Maddox.

They reported Slyder grabbed Maddox by the neck and throat area with his mouth and bit. Lamens reported he kicked Slyder several times in an effort to separate the dogs. One of the witnessing deputies advised he began reaching for his pistol in his holster to shoot at Slyder because he believed Maddox was in danger.

Lamens reportedly pulled his pistol and shot the dog three times when the dogs were briefly separated, Turley said.

Turley said Criscuolo went to his deceased dog and took him away from the scene.

“It’s an unfortunate incident that happened,” he said. “We never want to kill a person’s pet … but we need protect our K9 dogs … it could have been avoided if the dog was on a leash like it was supposed to.”

Criscuolo said when he came to Neppel Park, he saw the vehicle stopped by police. He said he asked a deputy if it was okay for him to allow his dogs to run in the area. He said he did not know which deputy he asked but said he was granted his request.

Turley said during standard protocol, when a drug dog is called on scene to work, there can be no other dogs in the area. He said he questions if Criscuolo was told he could run the dogs in the area of the drug dog.

The dog owner disagrees with the sheriff’s office.

Criscuolo said he initially had the dogs on leashes when he brought them toward the shoreline of Moses Lake. He let the dogs off the leashes and they played for about 10 to 15 minutes. He said the dogs wandered down the shoreline while he was standing on the railroad tracks in the park.

Criscuolo said he saw the deputy take the drug dog out of the vehicle and called out twice. He explained he was yelling for the deputy to put the K-9 away so he could leash his dogs to prevent his dogs from approaching.

He said the deputy did not hear him the first time he called out because the deputy reportedly said, “What?” He explained it was not clear if he was heard the second time.

Criscuolo said he saw Slyder sniff the rear of Maddox leading to Maddox biting Slyder. He said he saw the deputy kick Slyder two to three times to separate them and said Slyder never bit Maddox.

During the encounter, Criscuolo said he was running toward Slyder in an attempt to leash him. He said Slyder was running from Maddox toward him when he was shot three times.

He said he was close enough to place the leash on Slyder when it happened.

Turley said the sheriff’s office is conducting an internal investigation to determine if the level of force used by Lamens was appropriate.

The Moses Lake Police Department is conducting an investigation concerning possible citations or charges against Criscuolo for allowing the dogs to run at large without a leash and are determining if Slyder is deemed a hazardous dog under city ordinance.

Turley said it appears from the report he read about the incident that many of the bar patrons in the area would not have been at a proper vantage point to see the entire incident. He said the sheriff’s office continues to gather witness statements about the incident.

Maddox was taken to a veterinarian for examination. It was determined the dog was not injured, he said. Although the dog is a trained drug dog, it is not trained to be an attack or protection dog, he added.

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