'LUCKY' DOG SHOT BY POLICE
KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops woman is relieved to have her dog home, but she’s now getting help and asking some tough questions about why it was shot by a Kamloops RCMP officer.
Debra Milenk’s family dog — Askim — was shot in the head at point-blank range on Christmas Day while they investigated an incident unrelated to the dog. It miraculously survived largely uninjured before it was detained by city bylaw officers for two weeks to assess whether it was a dangerous animal.
“I’m overjoyed he’s home,” said Debra Milenk, one of the owners of the 15-month old cross-breed. "I’m going to proceed further with a lawyer to hold the RCMP accountable for what they did to the dog.... There’s lots of questions.”
Kamloops RCMP issued a statement after the incident stating the dog was shot when an officer felt threatened by the animal while responding to a complaint at a North Kamloops residence in the early hours of Christmas morning — police said Milenk's 27-year-old daughter was wielding an axe. No charges were laid in the incident but the aftermath continued.
Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said the Major Crimes unit investigated both matters.
"The complainant was not prepared to press charges in relation to the alleged assault with a weapon complaint. The matter relating to the discharge of the firearm was also investigated. It was found that the discharge of the firearm under the prevailing circumstances was justified in both law and RCMP policy," he said in a statement.
In the aftermath, Askim is lucky to be alive—the bullet punctured through the hide on its head, but ricocheted off its skull and later exited. It left a wound to heal and caused his ear to droop — but no other injuries.
Now that Askim is home, Milenk is concerned over how the situation was handled by police and the city. She said it took hours for the city to respond to the scene and pick-up the dog while it remained in an emergent state.
John Ramsay, bylaw services supervisor, is unaware of how long it took for the dog to be picked up from the scene, but he said the circumstnaces of Christmas day could have affected the situation.
"On Christmas day we're closed," he said. "We have to go through and get someone on call."
Milenk visited Askim almost every day in hopes of having her pet released and eventually sought support from the Not So Dangerous Dogs of British Columbia advocacy group. The dog was released Monday without an aggressive or dangerous animal label.
"Unfortunately, under the circumstances the dog was impounded as a potentially dangerous dog," said Jon Wilson, community safety and enforcement manager. "We still made sure that this dog was well-looked after."
"Under the circumstances, we can understand why it acted the way that it did."
"Therefore we felt it wasn’t necessary to deem it as aggressive and the dog could be released."
Irene Foley, advocate for the group, called the dog gentle and said the officer was ‘reactionary.' She would like to see the officer’s badge reviewed.
"We have some serious concerns about the RCMP and how they handled the situation,” Foley said.
Learned said the dog growled, barked and bared its teeth as it moved toward the officer. The officer reported that the dogs head was almost between his legs when he fired a single shot downward at the dog's head.
Foley believes a taser or pepper spray would have sufficed. She was also concerned about the RCMP inaccurately classifying Askim as a pit bull-labrador cross in a press release. The dog shows few signs of pit bull—more like a labrador-Rhodesian Ridgeback.
“This raises a lot of flags in our group,” she said.
It's why Foley has started a Facebook page and an online petition to gain awareness. She said she’s also filed a complaint against the RCMP to hold them accountable.
"It’s caused great huge stress, anxiety," she said.
For now, she is stuck with $800 in unexpected veterinarian bills while Askim continues his recovery on antibiotics. Whatever happens, she's just glad he's home.
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— Edited at 8:18 a.m. Jan. 9 to include a response from the RCMP and details from the City of Kamloops.