Canine camaraderie at the Reston, Va., dog park came to a halt Thursday morning when an animal control officer used extremely aggressive behavior toward the dogs, according to their owners.
“He said he’s looking for dog licenses so he starts throwing dog treats around,” Joseph Yindra said. “So of course all the dogs surround him, and then a couple of the dogs started to bark and he immediately took an aggressive stance, reached for his weapon and said, ‘Which one of you wants to get shot?’”
“I was just stunned,” said Leslie Craine, who was standing nearby. “And I was afraid because he did put his hand on his gun, and I have never been around a gun and my dog has not, so I didn’t know if that would set her off.”
Fairfax County Animal Control disputes the allegations. The officer recorded the entire incident, but authorities would not release the recording Friday.
Lt. Carol Wilhite did not hear the officer say, “Which one of you wants to get shot?” on the recording.
“What I heard was an officer who was perhaps in fear of his own safety advising the dog owners of what could happen if he was attacked by a dog,” she said.
The officer would only actually use a weapon as a last resort, Wilhite said.
“The officer is well-trained in those standards, and he would not use any force against an animal unless he felt it was necessary,” she said.
Both sides agree that the officer was trying to make sure the park was safe for everyone.
“He said something to the effect of, ‘Well, anyone should be able to come in here and not be jumped on,’ something like that, and I think people were just too stunned to say anything, and he left shortly after,” Craine said.