Residents concerned over gun-carrying animal control officers - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Residents concerned over gun-carrying animal control officers

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SULPHUR SPRINGS, TX (KLTV) -

Some East Texas citizens are voicing concern over their animal control officers carrying shotguns within city limits.

It's happening within the city limits of Sulphur Springs, mostly on the north side of the city.

City officials say the shotguns are necessary because officers are looking for dangerous animals.

"I stopped this animal control officer who was wearing camouflage gear, and asked him 'are you shooting dogs?' And he said 'yes ma'am, we are, if they are aggressive or mean or barking at people. We're going to shoot them,'" says Sulphur Springs resident Rhea Coleman.

Some residents are worried for public safety, saying they've seen animal control officers openly carrying shotguns in their neighborhoods.

"To me I question why carry a shotgun? Why not tranquilize the animal?" Coleman says.

"We don't normally do that, but we've got a situation right now.  We've got two wild dogs; they're vicious, they've killed small animals. What they tend to be doing is sleeping in people's front yards," says Sulphur Springs City Manager Mark Maxwell.

The city says the dogs have already killed small pets in the area,  and that shotgun animal control is warranted.

"What we fear is a child playing in the street, a jogger running by is going to be attacked by these dogs. We'd prefer to catch them, but we carry a shotgun just in case," Maxwell says.

But how those officers are doing it is the concern of citizens.

Coleman says a flurry of Facebook and Twitter activity accuses the officers of shooting at least one dog inside city limits.

"My aunt had said she witnessed this young man in his vehicle shoot a dog that was in the neighborhood," says Coleman.

That's not so, says the city.

"No, there haven't been any animals shot or caught yet," Maxwell says.

"In an area where there are children, other people, should we have someone walking the neighborhoods with a shotgun?" says Coleman.

But the city says the threat must be met.  

"It's legal to do it and we've got to protect the public," Maxwell says.

City officials say the wild dogs in question appear to be a pit-bull mix.

Anyone seeing them is asked to call 911, and to keep away from them.

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