San Diego police are investigating an incident in which an officer fatally shot a dog during what began as a domestic disturbance call.
The dog, a 6-year-old pit bull named Burberry, was killed when two officers went to an apartment in Pacific Beach early Sunday morning after receiving a report about a woman screaming "as though she was being strangled."
Ian Anderson, 24, answered the door at his apartment at approximately 5:15 a.m. He made "several attempts to block the dog from exiting the residence," according to police.
The dog got outside and ran toward one of the officers who "put his hand out in an attempt to calm the dog," police said. The dog then ran toward the second officer who can be seen, in a neighborhood surveillance video, to be retreating.
"As a last resort, the officer used lethal force to protect himself from being bitten," police said.
News of the event spread quickly on the Internet, with a Huffington Post story, a Facebook page called Justice for Burberry, and a protest petition on www.change.org. Several thousand people have sent the petition to Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Anderson told reporters that his dog was a gentle pet who may have been excited by the early-hour visit. He said the dog helped him deal with depression and anxiety.
On Facebook, Anderson wrote, "I keep looking around the corner thinking he is going to show up but he is looking down from heaven nevertheless. Burberry and I want to change this world for the better and unfortunately he gave up his life to do so. We will make sure other innocent animals aren't murdered."
The Police Department has begun an officer-involved shooting investigation, which is standard procedure whenever an officer uses his or her gun.
"We understand the depth of emotion involved in this situation," a department spokesman said. "The preservation of life is our top priority and this includes the lives of animals."
Anderson said the police had gone to the wrong address. The police said they went to the correct address where they had been told about a woman screaming; no arrests were made.
Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman told KNSD-NBC7 that officers are given dog-safety training devised by the Department of Justice and a police detective who was once an animal control officer.
"We're working on scenario-based training and videos to do additional training, not just for our department but for departments throughout the state of California," she said.