A dog died on the evening of Sept. 26 after being shot by a San Luis Obispo Police officer during a burglary investigation earlier that morning.

Police officers were responding to reports of a burglary happening on the 600 block of Santa Rosa St. Sept. 26 when they noticed a dog off its leash, according to San Luis Obispo Police Department Lt. Fred Mickel.

Mickel said the dog went after an officer at the scene. The officer then responded by shooting the dog, according to Mickel. 

Mickel said he was unable to disclose further details — including the name of the officer involved in the shooting — because the incident is currently an ongoing investigation.

Riley Manford, co-owner of 7-year-old pit bull-boxer hybrid Bubbs, said the incident should not have happened in the first place. 

“While the officers were in the driveway, I did say multiple times that he was not an aggressive dog,” Manford said. “[Bubbs] wasn’t going to hurt [the officer] or anything. [The officer] had a baton, too. Why couldn’t he have tased [Bubbs] or something?”

When asked by one of the officers to control the dog, Manford said she said yes but told the officer pointing the gun that “you need to stop reacting. You need to stop being afraid.”

Manford said she wanted to approach Bubbs, but felt unsafe doing so with the officer pointing a gun at her dog.

“[It’s] a good thing I didn’t, because what if I would’ve gotten my dog and he would’ve shot me?” Manford said. “Before I could get him, [the officer] shot at [Bubbs] three times.” 

Mickel said the owners took medical responsibility of the dog and took him to a vet.

Manford and co-owner Nick Regalia first took Bubbs to a veterinarian in San Luis Obispo. After “they did all they could,” Manford and Regalia went to Atascadero in an attempt to continue life-saving efforts for Bubbs.

Veterinarians in Atascadero were unable to save Bubbs without forcing him to be in pain for the rest of his life, according to Manford. Both Manford and Regalia agreed to let the veterinarians euthanize Bubbs.

Riley Manford | Courtesy

Sonja Dobbs, manager of the Animal Hospital of San Luis Obispo, said gunshot wounds, while rare in the veterinary field, “are often very fatal before a client is able to get a patient to a hospital.”

Dobbs had over a decade of experience in the veterinary field and previously worked on gunshot wounds in animals.

“There is a lot less of an established protocol for what to do and what to expect when you have a gunshot victim coming in,” Dobbs said.

She noted the trajectory bullets have makes it difficult to assess injuries until the wound is opened and examined, compared to stab wounds or wounds from getting hit by a car.

“So there’s a lot more uncertainty in their treatment and, because every case is so vastly different, there is a huge variety in outcomes,” Dobbs said.

Manford said she and Regalia rescued Bubbs when they resided in Oakland, California.

“He’s pretty energetic,” Manford said of Bubbs. “We have to take him out on bike rides … if we want to take him out somewhere to get some of that energy out.”

While Manford said Bubbs had a scary bark as a pit bull and acknowledged pit bulls’ reputation for being scary dogs, she said Bubbs had never hurt anybody in the time she and Regalia owned him.

“Whenever anyone does come over, we have to say ‘Hey, you know, like don’t be afraid. Just say his name and put your hand out’ and he’s fine,” Manford said. “He’s never hurt anybody.”

After the incident, Manford said she and Regalia have been considering legal action against the city for their dog’s death.

“I hate being the California ‘sue-happy’ thing, but this is very unfair and preventable and 100 percent the police’s fault,” Manford said. “And I’m supposed to feel safe with them. So I don’t know. If it comes to it, maybe. We still need to discuss that.”

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