Dog News

Vet Findings Conflict with Sheriff Report in Dog Shooting Case


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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.