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WV State Troopers Kill Dog During Manhunt

Reported by: Send eMail Chris Williams
Reported: Jun. 25, 2014 6:21 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 25, 2014 6:52 PM EDT
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Dog Shot
Eyewitness News Photo

Milton , Cabell County , West Virginia

Police spent much of Tuesday searching for a fugitive.

During the search West Virginia State Troopers and the Mason County Sheriff's Department said they had to shoot and kill a woman's dog.

Police spent almost 12 hours searching for Johnathon Jeffers, but with no luck. At one point during the search, police came out of the woods and onto Ginger Sweats’ property in Mason County. She has no ties to Jeffers, but was immediately caught up in the search when officers said they had to fire their guns.

Accompanied by the dog she has left, Sweat was still trying to come to terms with the loss of her beagle mix, Willy Pete. On Tuesday, police were searching the area where Sweat lives for a man who they said shot at them.

Sweat just happens to live in the search area, about seven miles outside of Milton. She said during the search, West Virginia State Troopers and Mason County Sheriff's Deputies came out of the woods onto her front yard, and that's when they shot her dog four times.

"The first time he tried to run. I don't think it hit him," she said. "They still continued to shoot him, and he eventually ran around to the side of my house, died and collapsed by my air conditioner."

Sweat said Willy Pete was her best friend, and that she tried to tell officers that the dog wasn't going to hurt anyone. However, West Virginia State Police Lieutenant Michael Baylous said the dog was a threat, and troopers did what they are trained to do.

"Try to avoid it, if possible, but the trooper who fired the shots, it's my understanding, waited until the very last second to fire that shot, in hopes that that animal would retreat," Baylous said.

The dog was sitting on a porch in the front of her house when the troopers came onto her property. Police said the dog started coming toward them. Sweat said the dog wasn't aggressive, but police said he was, and that they had to shoot.

"Many of us are dog lovers, but when it comes down to it, you absolutely have to put more value on the human life side of the equation than the side of the animal," Baylous said.

Troopers buried the dog behind the house. Sweat said her dog got her through a lot, and she is going to miss Willy Pete. She hopes that troopers think twice next time, before shooting an animal.

"I hit my knees when it happened, and begged the officer to do something," she said. "That was my best friend."



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