The Charles County Sheriff's Office is helping pay for the treatment of a dog shot by a deputy in Waldorf, Md., Thursday night.
A family's dog was outside their house, the family said, and two children were watching, including a 2-year-old who was a foot away from the dog when it was shot.
Deputies from the Charles County Sheriff's Office had arrived at the house on St. Peters Church Rd. around 7 p.m. to serve legal papers to a resident who no longer lived at that address.
The homeowner said deputies asked her to put her 2-year-old sheep dog, Dixie, inside the house while they sorted things out. The homeowner complied, but her 2-year-old niece pushed the door open a short time later. Dixie came running out, and the deputy shot the dog, according to an account from the homeowner's sister.
The family could not afford to pay for Dixie's treatment and told the vet to put her down, but the sheriff's office stepped in to help the family with the vet bills.
The deputy opened fire because he felt threatened, according to Charles County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Diane Richardson. She said the officer used force only after the dog charged at him. The sheriff's office released the following statement:
"When our officers arrived at the home, they asked the owner to secure the dog inside, which she did. The officers took extra care to conduct their police business outside the home. It is unfortunate that the accidental release of the dog, when a child opened the door, resulted in a situation where an officer felt his safety was threatened."
Dixie remains in critical condition, and the sheriff's office said they believe the shooting was justified.
The family has agreed not to sue the sheriff's office.