A call about a vicious dog in Pico-Union Tuesday morning ended in three people injured by dog bites and one dog shot by a Los Angeles police officer trying to control the animals, authorities said.
A police sergeant responded to a call about vicious animals attacking schoolchildren at about 10:45 a.m. and found the dogs near Toberman and 20th streets, Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Michael Mabie said. Three people were found in the neighborhood injured by dog bites, though none were seriously hurt, he said.
The responding officer was trying to control one of the dogs, when two other canines walked up to him from behind and attacked him, Mabie said. The dogs were all German shepherds, the lieutenant said.
“He tried to tell the dogs to back off, but they did not, and he ended up becoming involved in an officer-involved shooting,” Mabie said. “He shot one time and struck the dog once.”
Then the other dogs ran off, Mabie said. He said the dog that was shot survived, but did not know the dog’s condition. He said he believes the dog was shot in the back.
A witness at the scene named Abigail Duren described a similar scene to reporters.
“I saw one of the cops holding the dog, one of them, tying him up,” she said. “That’s when all the rest of the dogs came to him.”
She said the officer told her to get back and she began walking away.
“I got scared too because the dogs were coming,” she said, later saying the officer took some sort of shot as the other dogs surrounded him. “I don’t know if it was a gun or a Taser, but he did shoot one dog. And you saw the dog just crying on the floor.”
Video of the scene recorded by a witness shows at least three law enforcement vehicles and German shepherds running around between them, as police officers watch and appear to try to figure out a way to stop the dogs.
At one point, the video shows one of the uniformed officers — though it is unclear if he is a police officer or with another agency such as animal control — get into the back up a pickup truck and shoot at one of the dogs from the truck’s bed. The dog just runs off, and it’s not clear if it was struck.
Mabie said there were six dogs in the home where the animals came from, and all were removed from the property after the incident. The dogs were taken away by animal control services, he said.
Another man at the scene named Christian Melgar said he was attacked by a German shepherd in that same neighborhood two weeks earlier. He said the dog was with its owner but was “loose.”
“When the dog saw me, he just ran to me,” Melgar said. “And I didn’t know what to do. I just ran across the street and the dog followed me. And I fell, and he just kept biting on me.”
Melgar said the dog stopped biting him when he spoke “nicely” to the animal. But he said the attack left him bitten at least twice.
“He bit me on the leg … and he bit me over here,” he said, pointing to his right wrist, where a circular scab could be seen.
Duren said she and other people in the neighborhood didn’t expect such an attack since the owner, who she described as an older man, usually has his dogs under control.
“All of us are surprised,” she said. “They never got out, jumped out, that we know of.”
No schoolchildren were found by police to be victims of dog bites, Mabie said.
While police are doing an officer-involved shooting investigation, he said, any citations for the dogs will be handled by animal control regulators, not LAPD.
No other people were injured and it is unclear how the dogs got loose, Mabie said.