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Dog shot by officer is put down

Officers were attempting to serve a warrant on a suspect in a stabbing when the dog was shot

Officers were attempting to serve a warrant on a suspect in a stabbing when the dog was shot

October 22, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A dog shot Oct. 15 by a Hagerstown Police Department officer was put down Wednesday, the dog owner's family said Thursday morning.

Officers were attempting to serve a warrant in the 500 block of North Mulberry Street on a suspect in a stabbing when the dog was shot, Hagerstown Police Chief Art Smith has said.

Targa, a 6-year-old black Labrador, belonged to the suspect's landlord, Charles and Mary Gesford, and their daughters, Danielle Gesford, 17, and Ashley Gesford, 15. Officer Jesse Duffey shot the dog when it became aggressive.

Targa was shot in the muzzle and the bullet lodged in his throat, Danielle Gesford said last week.

The bullet destroyed Targa's larynx, Mary Gesford said Thursday morning.

The veterinarian called Wednesday morning to say Targa was choking on his own saliva and the veterinarian put him on a breathing tube. He could have lived with a feeding tube, Mary Gesford said.

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"But that is no life for a dog," she said.

The family gathered at a veterinary hospital in Frederick, Md., to say goodbye before Targa was put down, she said.

Targa will be cremated so they can keep his ashes, she said.

"I still believe it shouldn't have happened in the first place. But nothing can be done about it now," Ashley Gesford said Thursday.

Mary Gesford e-mailed members of the Hagerstown City Council Tuesday, asking for help in getting medical bills covered.

The total is about $7,600, she said.

Smith on Thursday said he is hoping the city will be able to help out the family with the medical bills. He is waiting for calls to be returned by various city officials, he said. A decision could be made as early as today, he said.

Duffey was cornered by the dog, Smith said.

Another officer was able to get out of the yard over a fence before the dog got to that officer, Smith said.

Then, the dog saw Duffey was going upstairs to a second-floor apartment when the dog came after him.

"He retreated as far as he could and the dog was evidently intent on biting him," Smith said.

Duffey was up against a gate of some sort and couldn't retreat further, he said.

Danielle Gesford said she wanted to tell her family's story. A Washington, D.C., television station has aired a story about Targa's shooting.

Targa was a surprise present six years ago for the two girls.

Charles and Mary Gesford went out to choose from a litter of Labrador puppies.

"Here comes Targa, just bounding up," Mary Gesford said. "He jumped on my leg, looking at me just as sweet as could be ... He picked me."

Now, she said, the family wants to move on.

No one from the city has apologized, but she doesn't mean to chastise Duffey.

At this point, the family just wants to city to cover Targa's medical expenses, she said.

She also mentioned some sort of reform, police using nonlethal weapons when dealing with pets, so this doesn't happen to someone else.

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