EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 1, 2013

UPDATE: Dog shot to death this morning was a Shar-Pei, not a pitbull

By Bill Kirk
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — LAWRENCE — A city patrolman shot a dog to death this morning after it charged him repeatedly, according to police.

According to a memo of the incident from Lawrence Sgt. Joseph Beaulieu to Police Chief John Romero, Patrolman Eric Cerullo "needed to shoot and kill a pitbull ... for his own safety" at around 8:15 a.m.

Animal Control Officer Ellen Bistany said the dog that was killed was not a pitbull. She said it was a Chinese Shar-pei, a 60-pound dog that can be aggressive and is sometimes used for fighting.

Sgt. Beaulieu said in the memo on the incident that at around 5 a.m., police got a call from a man at 28 Summer St. who said he was stuck in his car with his daughter and couldn't get out because a dog that he thought was a pitbull was trying to attack them.

Officer Cerullo went to the scene and was able to distract the dog so that the man and his daughter could get out of their car and enter their home. He said that during that encounter, the dog charged him several times. Further, he said he was unable to locate the owner.

About three hours later, at around 8:15 a.m., Cerullo was called again to the same address because the dog was trying to attack another person, according to Beaulieu's memo.

Animal Control Officer Bistany was notified, and Cerullo waited at the scene for her to arrive. He cleared a parking area of bystanders while also attempting to locate the dog's owner.

Cerullo said that as he was watching the dog, it charged him several times, and at one point, got within a few feet of him.

"At this time, Off. Cerullo, with his department issued firearm, fired approximately 3-4 shots at the pitbull, striking him," Beaulieu said.

The dog ran into the parking lot a few feet and then fell to the ground, alive but severely injured.

"Cerullo then fired 2 additional shots, ending the life of this dog," the memo said. Beaulieu said in the memo that he asked Cerullo why he fired the final two shots.

"Off. Cerullo stated to me that he did not want the dog to suffer any longer," he said.

Witnesses interviewed at the scene by Beaulieu corroborated Cerullo's story.

Bistany said the dog was verified by the MSPCA as a Shar-Pei or a mix of breeds dominated by Shar-Pei.

"It was not a pitbull," she said. "It had a wrinkly snout. The MSPCA verified it was a Shar-Pei mix. It was a non-neutered male. They can be nasty dogs, too."

She said nobody has come forward to claim the animal, which was in the neighborhood and appeared to be protecting a minivan that was parked in the area.

"Some careless owner left the dog out," she said. "It had a rope hanging from its collar, like a clothes line.

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More on this story in tomorrow's editions of The Eagle-Tribune.