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An angry Lancaster couple is questioning whether police were justified in shooting and killing the couple's two pet dogs last weekend.

Darren and Dawn Swetz want more answers from police, who shot the family's 2 1/2 -year-old Siberian husky, Nikki, and 6-month-old Australian shepherd, Three-Pete, after the two dogs escaped from the couple's fenced yard on Heritage Drive and apparently acted hostile when police encountered them.

"What they have told me so far did not justify the use of deadly force on these animals," Swetz, an attorney, said.

Officer Pasquale Ardino was called to a home on Old Orchard Common shortly before noon Sunday to investigate a call of two dogs attacking another dog, Lancaster Police Capt. Leon Trzewieczynski said.

When Ardino stepped out of the patrol car, the husky and shepherd ran toward the officer. They were barking and growling, Trzewieczynski said. Ardino used pepper spray to keep the two dogs away.

Fearing the two dogs would attack someone, Ardino, Officer Andy Koss and an assistant dog-control officer searched for the dogs and found them in a field off Stutzman Road in Bowmansville, Trzewieczynski said.

Again, Trzewieczynski said, the two dogs ran barking and growling at the officers.

Feeling threatened, Ardino tried to use his baton to keep the dogs away. But the confrontation with the dogs escalated to a point where the officer felt he had to pull out his gun and shoot the shepherd, Trzewieczynski said. The husky, meanwhile, turned more aggressive and was shot, too.

"We reviewed the report and talked to both officers. Their use of force was justified," said Trzewieczynski, adding that both Ardino and Koss are veteran officers.

"The dogs' behavior was very uncommon. The dogs weren't protecting their own property, they were running wild," Trzewieczynski said. "We had a risk of these dogs attacking other people."

Swetz -- who was trying to get more details about the incident -- agrees police need to use force to protect themselves and others, but he questioned whether the dog-control officer tried to restrain the dogs before the shooting.

Swetz said he was told the shepherd puppy was a problem, but the officers were going to try to coax the husky into the back of the patrol car.

Furthermore, Swetz said, the dogs never bit anybody.

"Nobody was bitten, but both my dogs are dead," Swetz said.

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