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Erie County deputies shoot dog after going to wrong house for a suspect

An Erie County sheriff’s detective shot a 67-pound brindle pit bull in the head at an East Concord house July 25.

The dog, named Lady, survived, but she has been confiscated from her owner, who now fears that authorities are going to have her destroyed.

And it is all because plainclothes detectives went to the wrong house looking for a suspect, according to Matthew Albert, an attorney for the dog’s owner.

“That dog didn’t do anything, and now it seems they want to either have her put to sleep or dismember her forever,” Albert said. “The actions of the deputies since the shooting incident have been completely blatant and retaliatory in nature."

Scott Zylka, executive assistant for Sheriff Timothy Howard and chief spokesman for the department, said he talked to Albert about the case Friday.

“Discussions with department superiors on our options on the dog are ongoing,” he said.

He would not comment further.

This is what happened at about 2 p.m. that day on Pratham Road in East Concord, according to Albert.

Megan Shimburski was house-sitting at her parents’ home. She was inside with her infant son. Her 5-year-old daughter, Makenna, was playing in the backyard with Lady.

Two unmarked sheriff’s vehicles pulled up, and three plainclothes detectives got out, mistakenly thinking a man they were looking for might be at the house. They went to the backyard with guns drawn and shot Lady twice, one a grazing wound and the other in the head. Makenna was only feet away from the dog, the attorney said.

The little girl started screaming, and Shimburski came running outside.

The detectives claimed in court papers they shot Lady in “self-defense” because the dog was barking and charging at them, according to Albert.

The dog survived, but emergency surgery at her veterinarian’s office cost Shimburski $1,200.

More than a week later, on Aug. 5, the deputies and a Sardinia animal control officer returned to the home and took Lady, after having gotten a town justice to authorize the seizure on the grounds that Lady was a “dangerous dog.”

It is possible the dog may be disposed of under provisions of the State’s Agriculture and Markets Law, Albert said.

Lady is being held at the Sardinia animal shelter on Middle Road. When Shimburski went there Friday, she discovered the dog has developed facial sores, Albert said.

Shimburski said she is “outraged and disgusted” by the actions of the sheriff’s deputies and the treatment her dog is getting “in custody.”

She told a reporter the dog’s gunshot wound is healing but she has had to get Lady more antibiotics and put an ointment on the dog’s face twice a day to deal with the sores.

Albert said he is negotiating with the Sheriff’s Office to return Lady to her owner as soon as possible, and hopefully before court on Tuesday.

Albert said he’s going to present evidence in the courtroom of Sardinia Town Justice Gene R. Heintz that shows the detectives never reported Lady was dangerous until Aug. 5, when community members found out about Lady and began questioning the Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re going to present compelling proof that this dog is one of the nicest dogs you’ll ever meet, and that the shooting of her was completely unjustifiable and an act of aggravated cruelty to animals,” Albert said.