An animal shelter in Bristow, Oklahoma, is reportedly putting down dogs in the worst way possible: by taking them behind the building and shooting them.

Residents of the town southwest of Tulsa are petitioning officials to stop the practice, alleging at least three dogs were shot dead this week alone — a claim confirmed Thursday by Bristow's mayor Leonard Bristow.

State laws mandate shelter animals be put down in a "humane way." But by not describing what constitutes "humane," Oklahoma legislation leaves the door open for a wide range of interpretation.

One such interpretation, according to the mayor, is to shoot them.

He told reporters on Thursday that the practice is legal, but also promised it wouldn't happen again.

"We are not going to shoot dogs anymore and we will try to work with local vets to help us," Washington said. "Shooting dogs is not a common practice, and this was a rare situation."

Angry Bristow residents like Beth Roberts feel it should never happen at all.

"It's not humane, period," she told The Daily Beast. "The way he's dragging them over, putting them in the hole first, then shooting them."

"We need to eliminate the practice of shooting these dogs in the head. It's barbaric. It's not up to the times. People are outraged."

Oklahoma's wide latitude for what constitutes "humane" may not come as too much of a surprise from a state that remains among 11 in the country, along with Utah and Kansas, to allow for gas chamber animal executions.

When contacted by The Dodo on Wednesday, a man who answered the phone at the city's animal control department said, "I'm not at liberty to speak about it."

Instead, he referred calls to the mayor — whose assistant said, "He's gone for the day. He's been under the weather."

To weigh in on this controversial practice, sign the online petition , or contact the mayor's office at 918-367-6244.