Beloved family pet fatally shot; two versions of what happened

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) – One gun shot ended the life of a dog being trained as a service animal. But was the animal the intentional target or an innocent bystander?

According to Geovanny and Johnnie Ragsdale, it all started Sunday night when they allowed their two dogs to leave the house without a leash to use the bathroom.

The couple told WDEF that it was very common to see family dogs off leash in their neighborhood which is located very close to Standifer Gap Road.

But late Sunday night, that common practice proved fatal.

The couple told WDEF that moments after their dogs left the house, the couple heard a single gunshot.

We came out running after hearing the squeal of a dog or an animal," Geovanny Ragsdale said.

One of the dogs came home safe and sound. But 5-year old Lobo was no where to be seen. For two days the couple searched the area looking for him. On Tuesday, Lobo was found in a far end corner of the couple’s back yard.

"We found him with a bullet that entered his abdomen and exited through his shoulder and completely severed one of his arms. We found him dead," the couple said.

The couple located the person who fired the shot. It was a nearby neighbor who lives less than a mile from their home.

According to the couple, that neighbor told them he shot a large dog with pointy ears because it growled at him while he was on his front porch. Lobo isn’t considered large and his ears are floppy and not pointy.

"We believe that Lobo was an innocent bystander of that shooting. To some degree, I’m sadly relieved that it wasn’t a child or person sleeping in their home," said Lobo’s owner.

The neighbor who has been identified as Chris Harbour told WDEF a different version of the story.

"I’m going to say 99.9-percent positive that it was that dog," Harbour said.

Harbour told WDEF that on the night in question, he walked out to his front porch to smoke a cigarette. He said he noticed a dog at his trash can which was located at the edge of his front yard.

"It growled at me so I went inside because we’ve had some viscous dogs here before. My wife actually had an experience with one; so I went inside and grabbed my rifle," Harbour said.

According to Harbour, when he came back out of the house with his riffle, he noticed the animal in question was walking down a grassy area toward his chickens which were still on his property. He told WDEF he pointed a light at the animal and it growled at him then proceeded to come at him.

"I shot at it. The dog yelped and took off," Harbour said.

Police and animal control officers showed up at Harbour’s home but no charges were filed against him because he was reportedly protecting his property.

Officer did however, lecture him about shooting.

"Just be careful  where I’m shooting; watch for flagrant fire and things like that," Harbour said.

"He was not in imminent danger. He had time to go into house and get his rifle and come back out. That man had time to make different choice. He could have called public works; he could have let the dog be and deal with it the next day; He had other choices he could have made. I just wish people would think about that before pulling a gun," said Lobo’s owner.

Harbour told WDEF that he and his family are animal lovers and that he wished what happened on Sunday night never occurred.

"I hate completely that it happened. It should have never happened but there again animal owners have to be responsible for their animals. They cant let them run free," Harbour said.

In the end, there were no winners. A family was left  without their beloved pet and a home owner who says he loves animals was left with the mental images of taking a life to protect his property.

Categories: Local News

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