Update 2 p.m.: Austin police have released more details about an incident Wednesday night in which a police officer shot and killed a pit bull that was attacking a smaller dog.
Assistant Chief Steve Deaton of the Austin Police Department said that the shooting occurred at about 7:30 p.m. at a Petco store located near Lakeline Blvd. and Research Blvd. A 16-year-old girl entered the store with an approximately 90-lb pit bull on a leash. The pit bull encountered a Maltese, a small breed, on a leash. The two dogs began barking and the owners pulled them apart.
A short time later, the pit bull escaped its owner and ran through the store dragging its leash. It attacked the Maltese, which was on its leash, held by its owner, an elderly woman. The pit bull picked up the smaller dog in its mouth and began to maul it, Deaton said.
Senior Patrol Officer Leslie Lyons was on an overtime assignment working for Petco on a security issue unrelated to the shooting. She was in full uniform, but was on an authorized off duty assignment, Deaton said.
When the commotion began at the front of the store, Lyons ran to the front. Several customers were trying to pull the dogs apart. Lyons cleared the area, made sure it was safe and fired one shot at the pit bull. It dropped the Maltese, but the pit bull went after the dog again, Deaton said.
That’s when Lyons fired a second shot, killing the pit bull, Deaton said.
The Maltese was rushed to an emergency veterinarian and was still alive at last report, Deaton said.
The shooting follows a series of high-profile cases where Austin police officers have shot and killed dogs, causing intense public backlash. Deaton pointed out that APD has implemented a training program for officers in handling situations involving dogs, reducing dog shootings by officers by 50 percent. The training program will likely be expanded, he said.
“We know that pets are family members and people love their dogs and the last thing we want to do is shoot a dog,” Deaton said.
There were no security cameras in the store and neither dog had been reported to area law enforcement agencies as dangerous.
Lyons remains on full duty while the incident is being reviewed. One change in APD policy, Deaton said, is that dog shootings are no longer reviewed just by an officer’s immediate supervisor. Those reports go all the way up the chain of command to Chief Art Acevedo.
Earlier: An Austin police officer shot and killed a pit bull at a pet store near Lakeline Mall after it had attacked a smaller dog.
The incident was reported about 7:20 p.m. at the Petco located at 14010 U.S. 183.
The officer, who was in full uniform, shot twice.
Police did not release further details.