Ambridge police criticized for shooting, killing stray dog

May 14—Ambridge police have been criticized heavily on social media for their handling of a stray dog on Saturday, after an officer shot the dog when it became aggressive in their parking lot, only to discover a short time later that it was still alive and shot it again.

Police said a large brindle mastiff was found by a borough resident shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday near 23rd Street and Lenz Avenue. Officers could not locate a tag, and transported the dog back to the station to try to locate a chip. In a now-deleted post from the Ambridge Borough Police Department Facebook page, officers showed the dog poking her head out the back window of a police cruiser.

"She decided to do a ride-along with Officer Turner today," the post read. "She will be hanging out with him for the next hour."

Police initially said if the dog was not claimed within an hour, it would be taken to the Beaver County Humane Society for care.

Shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday, an officer went to the department's outdoor kennel to retrieve the dog and take her to the humane society. An Ambridge police Facebook post then says the dog "immediately became aggressive and attempted to bite the officer in the hand. As the officer turned and began to run away, the dog bit him on his left knee."

A second officer tried to help corral the mastiff using a dog pole, but ended up closing it back in the kennel and going inside the station, according to the post. When they came back outside, the dog had escaped the kennel and was running loose around the station parking lot.

"As officers attempted to catch the dog, she then charged at one of the officers," the post reads. "The dog got within arm's reach of the officer and lunged to attack him. The officer had no choice at the time but to dispatch the dog with his service pistol."

After covering the dog's body with cardboard in the parking lot, officers discovered a short time later that she was still breathing and alive.

After contacting the county humane society, "it was determined that it was best to put the dog down on scene," police wrote.

The department has come under heavy criticism from social media for its handling of the situation.

Tribune-Review news partner WPXI reported that a computer specialist will be going through the department's video surveillance footage on Monday to determine if the incident was caught on camera. The building containing the police department, borough administration and fire department is covered by cameras on multiple sides, including one directly above the kennel on the side of the police station.

Police said they were contacted by a man who claimed to be the dog's owner, but he never showed up at the station. Police said they've received additional, noncredible calls from people claiming to also be the owner.

"If you are the owner of this dog, please contact the Ambridge Police Department," the post reads. Ambridge police can be reached at 724-266-5977.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick by email at pvarine@triblive.com or via Twitter .