Rains Co. investigator in dog-shooting incident facilitated dog-training program

Rains Co. investigator in dog-shooting incident facilitated dog-training program
Rosie was shot to death Monday. (Source: Harris Family)
Rosie was shot to death Monday. (Source: Harris Family)
Rosie gave birth to puppies just five months ago. (Source: Harris Family)
Rosie gave birth to puppies just five months ago. (Source: Harris Family)
Investigator Sam Mayer, left, receives plaque from Sheriff Traylor, right. (Source: KLTV Staff)
Investigator Sam Mayer, left, receives plaque from Sheriff Traylor, right. (Source: KLTV Staff)

RAINS COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A Rains County Sheriff's Office deputy is on desk duty until the investigation into his shooting of a dog is complete.

On Monday, the Rains County Sheriff's Office confirmed one of its staff members shot a dog. The incident took place almost a year after another deputy with the department shot a dog during a burglary call.

The sheriff's office identified the shooter as Sam Mayer, an investigator. On Tuesday, the department confirmed that Mayer is still active in the department and has not been placed on leave.

KLTV requested dash or body cam footage, but police say neither camera was on.

The sheriff's office also said Investigator Mayer facilitated a training program for the Rains County Sheriff's office called 'Law Enforcement and Dogs Shoot/Don't Shoot.'

They said he led those efforts after last year's incident. All members of the sheriff's office will now have to participate in the training through the SPCA. The last session was in September. At the time, all members, including Mayer, were trained.

The sheriff's office says Mayer was assisting CPS with an investigation at a residence off County Road 1308 on Monday. They say they were confronted by a large, aggressive dog, which prompted them to honk the horn to get a resident to come out. 

A woman came out and waved at them, after which the CPS caseworker got out of the vehicle and began walking toward the house, the RCSO says.

The woman went back inside, officials say, and the dog continued to bark and became more aggressive, biting at the CPS worker. Mayer then approached the residence, yelling for the woman to go back outside and restrain her dog; instead, a small child came out of the house, the statement continues.

“They lost a family member today,” says Christina Harris of her family's dog Rosie.

Harris and her daughter Alysha say the loss of their dog Rosie was devastating.

“I hear a gun shot and all I see coming out of the dog is... red. I'm kneeling next to the dog and all I see is the dog looking up at me and it dies in my arms,” says Alysha.

The sheriff's office says the dog was shot after it turned toward Mayer "lunging, mouth open, snapping to bite." The sheriff's office claims the dog had already bitten at Mayer.

“The deputy said that it had bit his pants leg and everything, but there were no holes in the pants legs. There was no proof. He never pulled up his pants leg to show us any bite marks,” she says.

Alysha says her eight-year-old sister, Jasmine, saw the investigator shoot her two-year old dog.

“It kind of shocked me when he shot Rosie because she's a good dog…It really scared me because I don't like to see animals getting shot or hurt. It just scared me a whole lot,” says Jasmine.

The Harris' say aggression just wasn't in Rosie's nature.

“She was just a lovable family member. She sleeps in the house; she had her own couch in the house that she slept on every night,” says Christina.

The sheriff's office released the following statement on Tuesday:

Yesterday our officer was involved in an incident where a dog was shot. The initial investigation shows the animal was very aggressive towards the officer and a CPS case worker. A thorough investigation will be conducted to ensure all protocols, and procedures were followed. Once all evidence, statements and photographs are submitted, the case will be presented to a review board to ensure impartiality and fairness to all parties involved.

In April 2014, Jerrod Dooley, a now former Rains County deputy, shot a dog while responding to a burglary call. Dooley was charged with animal cruelty and eventually fired after threats were made against him and the sheriff's office. Sheriff David Traylor said Dooley was fired because it was the safest move for the department and the deputy.

As a result of this incident, guidelines were set in place for deputies faced with a similar situation, such as calling the owner before getting out of the car if there is a potentially aggressive dog present or honking the horn.

“You can put the policies out there. You can try to follow them to the best that you can, and sometimes they work, sometime they don't work, but a lot of it just comes down to common sense,” he said, but ultimately, it will all come down to judgment," said Sheriff Traylor when KLTV spoke with him last year.

Dooley surrendered his law enforcement license in late 2014 as part of an agreement to drop the animal cruelty charges against him. Dooley's charges were dropped in October.  

After the incident with Dooley, his story spread quickly and a Facebook page called "Justice for Candy Middleton" was set up. Cole Middleton, the owner of the dog Dooley shot, Candy, and many of the members of the Facebook group rallied to push the passage of "Candy's Law," which would require law enforcement officers to have proper training with dogs.

Middleton says Candy's Law is part of his healing process, along with forgiving Candy's shooter.

When KLTV spoke with Middleton in September, he said several Texas police departments have already begun the training.

In Gregg County, numerous deputies and other officers participated in a class called 'Dogs and Police. Shoot or Don't Shoot' developed by workers at the SPCA in response to Dooley's shooting.

As for Dooley, in a September interview with KLTV, he said he's glad to give up law enforcement, and that he still thinks about Candy the dog from time to time. 

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