Alton reinstates animal control after police shoot a family’s dog

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ALTON, IL (KPLR) – The firestorm over Monday’s police shooting of a pet dog in Alton came to a sudden halt.

The city earlier defunded its animal control department with police taking over those duties.

Two police officers shot and killed someone’s pet dog Monday.

The Alton City Council voted to restore animal control funding Wednesday night.

Mayor Brant Walker said an unexpected, reimbursement of close to a million dollars from the Army Corp of Engineers just came through and the council voted to spend $50,000 to bring back the city’s one animal control officer through March.

More than 50 demonstrators gathered outside Alton City Hall Wednesday night not knowing the action the City Council would be taking about 90 minutes later.

One sign read “Paws Up Don’t Shoot” in response to two Alton Police Officers shooting and killing a 14-year-old dog named Buster.

“Buster was killed inhumanely, shot to death,” lamented demonstrator Chris Woulfe, dressed in a dog costume.

Buster got away from his owner over the weekend.  He turned up Monday outside a Family Dollar Store about a mile from home with no tags.

He was micro-chipped but officers did not take him to check of it.

The police report said:  Buster was vicious with a wounded rear leg and bit at least 1 person; unable to find someone with animal control experience, the officers felt they had no choice but to shoot and kill the dog in an isolated area the public works department.

Residents and Buster`s owner read the police report much differently, noting that bystanders helped lure Buster into a police car with lunch meat.

The report said one officer shot Buster twice with a shotgun; a second officer shot him twice more with a handgun after Buster continued to charge the officers.

“That dog was in shock the moment it was shot.  So yes, I bet it screamed I bet it was snapping at everything because something just hurt it, really bad!” said Jackie Spiker, co-founder of Hope Animal Rescues of Godfrey.

“The officers on Monday acted within what they knew to be their options.  So we're going to work to educate and train all of our officers for more options so hopefully we don't have this situation again,” said Emily Hejna of the Alton Police Department.

The city council made sure of that situation wouldn’t arise through at least March with the funding measure passed Wednesday night.

“It's basically a bit of a miracle,” Mayor Brant Walker said of the funding suddenly coming through.

He said he and the police chief stood behind the officers' actions and that the shooting did not impact the funding measure.

The suspension of animal control service was only temporary with the council already looking for permanent funding, which it will continue to do, Walker said.