Dog rescued from shelter attacks 3, fatally shot by deputy

Published: Apr. 16, 2014 at 9:06 PM EDT|Updated: May. 15, 2014 at 2:53 AM EDT
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UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The German Shepherd that was rescued from euthanization two weeks ago, then shot and killed Sunday afternoon by a Union County deputy after the dog attacked three people, was first picked up as a stray in Rowan County.

According to documents from Rowan County Animal Control, the dog was "trapped as a result of a 911 call" on Saturday February 15. Officers say the dog was aggressive, and unsocialized.

Shelter workers said six days later at the shelter, the dog bit a Sheriff's Canine Deputy, who was trying to see if he could work with the German Shepherd.

According to the Animal Bite report, the Deputy "went to put a leash on the dog and it bit."

The Deputy was bitten on his left and right wrists.

It wouldn't be the last time the dog would bite someone.

At the end of March, shelter officials agreed to adopt out the dog, even though it was aggressive.

Sunday afternoon the dog turned on its new owner and a woman who were trying to socialize it.

The Union County Sheriff's Office said they received a 911 call just before 2:30pm Sunday that a dog was attacking two women at Crossing Paths Park in downtown Indian Trail.

WBTV obtained a copy of the 911 call.

The caller said: "It's a dog bite. Call the police and get an ambulance here." The 911 operator responded: "Did the dog attack someone?" And the caller said: "Yes, please!"

Seconds later, the caller said: "There is a certified trainer here. We were working with the dog, and the dog turned." The operator said: "Ok, did it attack someone in the face?" And the woman who called said: "Yes.".

The day in the park was supposed to be a socialization session for the German shepherd named Paul.

The dog had a face book page in his name "Paul  - the dog that got a second chance" where his owner chronicled his life after she rescued him.

She wrote on his behalf "I was due to be put to sleep for aggression. This is my story on my rehab and my second chance."

It started back in March when Chivon Winter posted "Share this page! The general public needs to see that there are alternatives to addressing their dog's bite history/aggression rather than euthanasia. If your dog bites or has aggression, don't put it to sleep...get help from Dual Purpose Dog Training."

The shelter eventually allowed Winter to take the dog and she posted video of the day she picked Paul up from the shelter.

According to the face book page, Winter worked with the German shepherd over the last two weeks.

On Sunday, Winter and another woman, took the dog to the park to work on socialization.

The Union County Sheriff's Office said the other woman was feeding the dog when it suddenly turned on her and bit her in the face.

"The owner was bit, I believe, when they were trying to hold the animal down" said Captain Goodman.

In a statement to WBTV, Winter said, "Friends and supporters, it is with a very heavy heart that I report the death of Saul, AKA Paul. On Sunday April 13, during a socialization session with Saul, he lashed out at an adult that has extensive experience with many types of dogs and knew of Saul's history. My immediate instinct was to pull Saul from this volunteer. I received the brunt of attack to my hands and forearms to keep others safe. 911 and animal control were immediately called and responded emergently. Animal control did everything in their power to try and control Saul, but Saul could not be calmed. His life was ended."

She added "In the previous weeks leading to this event, Saul only barked at those who he did not know and quickly changed his mood and demeanor with positive reinforcement of wanted behavior. He showed a high level of intelligence and willingness to please without signs of aggression during training or routine socializations. Saul was in my opinion making excellent progress."

Winter said "please give us time to recover from this tragic incident. If I do not respond it is because I am having a very hard time typing. We also understand that everyone is entitled to an opinion whether good, bad or indifferent. I will do my best to answer questions, but will not respond to speculation. Please direct all questions and comments to"

During the 911 call, a woman told the operator "we've got a lady down on the ground and bleeding, you've got to get here."

A deputy arrived and tried to treat the victim who was bitten in the face. The officer also called for back up.

A second deputy, who was nearby at the Sheriff's Office sub-station in Indian Trail, ran over to the park with a catch pole and took the dog from its owner.

"But the dog started to get away from the officer with the catch pole" said Capt. Goodman. "And it bit the officer in the ankle on the boot. That officer didn't sustain any injuries but the dog had his mouth around his leg."

Police say the deputy became concerned for his safety.

"At that point the officer felt like he was losing control of the dog, pulled out his service weapon and fired two rounds into the dog."

The dog died.

Police said the woman who was bitten in the face was taken to a local hospital where she was treated and released, and the dog's owner was treated on the scene.

Deputies say the German shepherd was sent off for rabies testing, and that Winter produced paperwork that showed the dog was current on rabies vaccination.

Now, deputies are wondering why the dog with prior aggression issues was allowed to be taken.

"Right now we're just trying to find out the background of this animal to see if there's anything we can do at this point" Capt. Goodman said. "We {Union County} don't normally adopt out animals that have a history of biting people."

Police said they had no contact with the dog in Union County before Sunday's attack.

Captain Macky Goodman said "when we asked her where she had gotten it from, she told us she had signed a non disclosure statement with the people she had gotten it from stating she couldn't talk about that."

Late Monday afternoon, Capt. Goodman said his office was able to confirm the dog was rescued from Rowan County Animal Shelter.

WBTV reviewed some of the documents regarding the dog.

After it bit the Rowan County Sheriff's Canine Deputy back on February 21st, shelter workers checked the box that said the dog's temperament was "aggressive", and placed it in the required 10 day rabies quarantine.

County officials told WBTV the dog was scheduled for euthanasia because it had no known owner and was aggressive.

But the public started to rally to save the dog. County officials say several people contacted them to adopt the German Shepherd.

Officials say before the dog was to be put to sleep, Winter - the dog trainer - contacted the Animal Control Supervisor with an alternative resolution.

Clai Martin, Rowan's Animal Control Supervisor, told WBTV in an email "the trainer assumed full responsibility for Paul, Paul's training and gave reasonable assurances that she had been successful in the past and would not endanger the public as part of Paul's training."

The Animal Shelter took an unprecedented step and agreed to an alternative solution to euthanasia for a dog that was aggressive and had no owner.

County officials drew up a 'Consent for Release and Indemnity Agreement that had several requirements, among them - when outside the dog would "be housed in a chain-link fence or privacy fence that is a minimum of 10 feet X 10 feet, 6 feet tall, secured with a padlock and with at least four "Beware of Dog" signs posted on the lot."

The dog was not allowed "to run at large or in any way leave the property unless under restraint."

The agreement said "while in Winter's care, if left unattended, Paul shall be housed inside Winter's training facility {next to her house} in a secure kennel."

And, the dog was to be "muzzled" if taken off the property, "unless Winter deems it necessary to a training exercise and the dog's successful rehabilitation for the muzzle to be removed for training purposes."

The agreement said the county will not be held liable for any adverse action related to the dog.

And, Winter could adopt out the German Shepherd after he was with her for "a minimum of three months from the date of his arrival, was evaluated through temperament testing by Winter and trained to correct issues.

County officials say even though there is a non disclosure clause in the agreement, all County agreements are public documents.

Neya Warren, the attorney for the trainer who adopted the dog contacted WBTV Wednesday and gave the following statement:

"Chivon Winter has five years of experience as a dog trainer and has successfully rehabilitated dogs with known bite records. Paul had bitten one person prior to Sunday. Paul had engaged in rigorous training for two weeks prior to Sunday and had performed beautifully. He was at the park on Sunday for a training exercise with Ms. Winter and three others who were assisting in the exercise. All three have experience with dogs, knew of Paul's history and understood the risk involved in assisting with his training. There were no other people in the park. Ms. Winter would not have conducted the exercise there had others been present. There were three people injured by Paul - Ms. Winter, one of those assisting in his training, and an officer on the scene. My understanding is the officer was bruised on his ankle.  No member of the public was injured and Paul was never running at large. Those injured do not require further treatment."

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