Vet Findings Conflict with Sheriff Report in Dog Shooting Case

Life With Dogs is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

Vet examination suggests dog was in a defensive position when shot.

5-year-old German Shepherd Jake was shot and killed on May 25 shortly after a sheriff’s deputy responded to a call from his owner, Gretchen Holst, about a disturbance caused by a neighbor who was trespassing with dogs. When Deputy Michael Buenting arrived on the scene,  a member of the Holst family was putting their own dogs away. But in his report,  Buenting said Jake got free and lunged at him, forcing him to draw his weapon and fire in self defense.

Now a veterinarian who examined the German Shepherd asserts that Jake was not likely in an attack position when he was shot. According to Dr. Tom Sheridan, the trajectory suggests that the dog had its muzzle pointed downward when the bullet struck.

“Dogs don’t lunge like that,” Sheridan said yesterday. He claims the bullet wound is consistent with a dog holding its ground in a defensive manner.

Sheridan’s statement followed an x-ray of the dog that showed an entrance wound on the dog’s head above the eyes. The bullet path angled downward, toward the base of its skull.

“It doesn’t appear that the dog was lunging at the officer for the bullet to be placed like that,” he added.

Sheridan points out that he is not certified in forensic pathology and cannot estimate the distance between the dog and the shooter, but Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Buenting said the dog was about 2 feet away and charging aggressively when he fired. Gretchen Holst maintains that Jake was hunkered down at least ten feet away.

“I’m sure both sides are going to be clouded in emotion and adrenaline,” Sheridan said.

Holst family attorney Mike Gruenloh said the shooting would never have taken place if Deputy Buenting had listened to the Holsts when he arrived.

“There has been a lot of criticism of the family that they should have had the dogs put up,” Gruenloh said, “Mrs. Holst was doing just that but the officer did not give her a chance and ignored her requests to not come up the driveway and request that he stay in the car.”

Buenting remains on duty pending the results of an internal investigation that is expected to conclude by early next week.

50 thoughts on “Vet Findings Conflict with Sheriff Report in Dog Shooting Case”

  1. This is yet another case of law enforcement shooting a dog and trying to cover up their lack of training in dog behavior or inability to correctly evaluate the intention of a barking dog. Very few, if not any, law enforcement officers are trained in dog behavior and think anything a dog does is a threat to their safety. As those of us who take the time to read and educate ourselves in dog behavior know, dogs are not always in the attack mode. Some are merely giving strangers a warning with no intent to attack which is a very natural behavior for most dogs.

    It seems that the lawyers in this case need to contact Dr. Melinda Merck, a veterinary forensics expert who worked on the Michael Vick dogfighting investigation. Her expertise could resolve this case and if it were my dog I would seek her help.

    I think I will side with the dog owner’s description of events. After all they have nothing to hide or gain. The officer on the other hand, has his job and his reputation at stake.

  2. Having read several accounts of this story, this particular story leaves out the biggest problem of all…. the Holst family has an electric fence and, for whatever reason, can’t seem to understand that electric fences might… and I do mean MIGHT… help to keep your dog contained but it doesn’t keep them safe from things that come ON TO your property.

    It’s sad that this shepherd was shot by a deputy and who knows how this investigation will turn out. I do know that I can’t HOPE to begin to tell an officer HOW TO RESPOND to a call once they arrive.

    Telling officers to stop where they are and NOT come up the driveway? How does the officer know if you are the citizen that is the problem or the person who made the initial call? Maybe there’s someone out of view ready to come out at the officer? There are rules officers need to keep in mind for their own safety when responding to calls. I can’t believe this attorney thinks he can make a case.

    Of all the stories I’ve read, none of them mentioned the neighbor coming WITH his dogs over the property line. I don’t know what the rules in this community are regarding fencing but there is nothing “secure” about (invisible) electric fencing. I can only hope that if this community has a rule AGAINST actual (visible) fencing, a case like this one can be used to allow people to put up REAL, VISIBLE, fencing.

    • This brief was intended to supplement original, widespread reports of the shooting at the time it took place. In actuality, the electric fence bears no relevance to the shooting of the dog. Had the Holst family called police to their property for a different matter the situation would have played out the same way.

      And no, that does not mean that we are taking sides. 😉

      • It means, if you researched this whole incident, they initially CALLED the police because the neighbor’s dogs kept coming ON TO their property.

        Then, after immediately calling the police (or even prior, if you’re trying to keep your dogs safe from a neighbor’s dog(s), YOU IMMEDIATELY CONTAIN your animals.

        Did the officer potentially over react and lie in his report… maybe.

        Can someone tell an officer how to respond once they arrive? Hell no and how presumptuious to think you can. Funny how cops always catch hell for not thoroughly checking things out. Like those calls for a couple or a family in an argument, police respond, person answers door and says the problem person is gone. Later they are sued because the person had been drugged, duct taped and shoved in a closet. Yep, real life, it has happened.
        I also was in dispatch when an officer was shot because he DID trust the person waiving him off and the person quickly grabbed a fire arm.

        BTW, in case you haven’t already heard this, should you ever be pulled over in a traffic stop STAY IN YOUR CAR! If you have to get out or need to reach for something in your glove box, TELL THE OFFICER FIRST! (I actually had a friend that had an officer pull his gun on him for reaching into the glove box).

        I now work in animal control and we’ve had some dogs we have taken care of after officer shootings. I know that some of them were completely uncalled for and from officers that over reacted or had a fear of the breed in their head. I also know there were a few times when they didn’t have any other choice.

        I guess I have a gift of remaining unbiased and not judging and calling names. I can see how each person in this incident could have done something different. In the same way the cop in this story may have over reacted so have many of you. That sort of makes you the same – does that give you a different perspective?


Leave a Comment