Austin police tell their side of fatal pit bull shooting

AUSTIN –  The Austin Police Department says Thursday’s shooting of the pit bull named Papa was an unfortunate incident but was justified.

The homeowner is heartbroken from losing her dog. Now police are asking everyone to learn from this situation so that it doesn’t happen again.

For Brittany Miller, the past 24 hours have been a whirlwind.

“I think somebody tried to break in my house,” Miller said in a call to 911 dispatchers Thursday afternoon.

She said she arrived home to find her house on Delores Avenue in East Austin had been broken into and her window smashed.

Officers arrived to file a report about the incident a few hours later. Miller was inside the home.  

“We hear ‘pow, pow, pow,’ and then my dog is shot,” she said.

Papa the pit bull was shot twice when responding officers said he attacked one of them.

Papa was on a leash tied to the side of the porch. Austin police said the officers didn’t notice the dog until they were already too close to him. They said one officer knocked on the front door, startling the dog. They said that was when Papa attacked the other officer.

“The officer was caught completely by surprise,” APD Assistant Chief Raul Munguia said in a press conference Friday afternoon.

Miller and the officers rushed Papa to an animal shelter, but by then it was too late.

Austin police said it was an unfortunate situation, but the officer had been trained in animal protocol and was within policy. APD is asking the public to help prevent this type of incident from happening again.

“Animals, you never know how they are going to react when coming onto what is their territory,” Munguia said. “Tell the 911 operator if you have an animal in the home so that way an officer, you know, knows what he is dealing with when he is coming up.”

In the police academy, cadets receive in-the-classroom training in animal protocol. Some officers, including the one involved in the incident, have received online training in animal protocol.

Click here to read APD’s policy on animal-related incidents.

Click here to read APD’s policy on firearm discharge situations.

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