LIBERTY HILL, Texas -- Vinny is German Shepherd with a bullet wound on the back of his neck. On Monday, a Leander police officer shot Vinny when he says the dog and another German Shepherd came running at him while trying to serve a warrant.
"He said they were growling and closing distance very quickly,” said Lt. Derral Partin, a spokesperson for Leander Police.
However Vinny’s owners Renata and James Simmons say Vinny has never acted aggressively.
“This dog wasn't after him. This dog was just running up going 'hey what are you doing?' and they have a right to do that. This is my yard; this man should not have even been there. He could have killed my husband's best friend,” said Renata Simmons.
The Simmons also tell KVUE they have never heard of the man police were looking for. The warrant was for a man named Bradly Neal Simpson, who is wanted for an expired vehicle registration.
The address on the warrant is in Cedar Park, not Liberty Hill, where the Simmons have lived for nine years. However Leander police say their database shows Simpson’s last known address as the same one where the Simmons live.
“I’ve never heard of him,” said Simmons.
After entering the Simmons’ gate and knocking on their front door, the Leander police officer began walking around to the back of the house.
According to the officer, two German Shepherds starting running toward him, so he fired three shots and one of them struck Vinny in the back of the neck.
The Simmons say not only was it a close call for their dog, Vinny, but it was also a close call for their six-year-old terminally ill grandchild playing just around the corner.
“I was in my house, my grandchild was at the back picnic table, my husband was in the kitchen getting a snack and my dogs do what they do; run in and out.”
Leander police say the officer never noticed the child, and it’s policy to use lethal force on any animal they think is attacking.
“We're trained to fire until the threat is stopped,” said Partin.
Renata Simmons is a professional dog trainer for “Find. Love. Train.” She says there are always people coming and going in their backyard, so Vinny is used to seeing unfamiliar faces, and he has never been aggressive.
“The dogs always do the same thing, they're like 'hey somebody's here' and they go running up to the gate like 'hey pet me.' Well they didn't get pet this time, they got shot."
Leander police are calling it “an unfortunate incident.”
“No officer wakes up and gets dressed and goes to work and wants to kill someone's dog,” said Partin.
The officer who shot Vinny is still on active duty. This case is under administrative review, and Partin said they're evaluating whether or not to change current tactics.
To help pay for Vinny’s veterinarian bills, a non-profit organization called “Georgetown Animal Outreach” is collecting donations.
If you would like to make a donation, click here.