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Police Chief Quits After Shooting Lost Dog At Firing Range

A Missouri police chief has quit following allegations he took a lost puppy to a firing range and shot the animal to death.

Andrew Spencer of Sparta was asked by city officials to leave his postand remain with the department as a sergeant, but chose instead to resign after the November incident.

The shooting, which took place in November, sparked outrage after the 16-month-old dog's owner chronicled the events on Facebook.

Elizabeth Womack described her dog Chase as a "playful and loving puppy who wanted to do nothing but play and cuddle. He played with our son and watched over him."

But in his police report, dated Nov. 11, Spencer painted a portrait of a difficult-to-control dog barking at people in a neighborhood with children.

"I did not want to destroy the dog if we could help it, and certainly did not want to destroy it in a neighborhood where it was possible children were watching," Spencer wrote.

The former police chief instead forced the dog into a crate and, he says, began calling shelters looking for someone to pick up the errant animal. He was told if the dog proved "hostile" he would have to be destroyed.

While making those calls, Spencer was alerted to a crash site at a local high school.

"Due to the higher priority call and the imminent destruction of the dog," Spencer wrote in the report, "I decided it was best to destroy the dog and respond to the accident."

Spencer took the dog to a nearby firing range where he fatally shot him before speeding off to the high school.

Days later, Womack finally learned what had happened to her dog. On the afternoon of the shooting, she noted on Facebook, she came home to find Chase missing. Assuming he had managed to escape the yard, she went to the Sparta police department.

An officer there told her there had been a call about a dog.

"We called for a whole week trying reach chief Andrew Spencer," Womack wrote. "He did nothing but give us a run-around for days. So we called all dog pounds and shelters and rescue one where we got Chase from. A few days later we get a call from Chief Spencer, saying he had shot a pit bull chow mix that he picked up in the trailer park down the road from us.

"He told us he buried him in the sludge field if we wanted to make sure it was him."

Chase had been adopted by a Springfield-based rescue called Rescue On, which, according to its website, "strives to rescue abused, neglected and homeless animals and place them in loving homes."

No criminal charges have been laid against Spencer, but his career as a police officer has certainly taken a hit.

"A person who can be mean or kill an animal doesn't need to take care of people," State Rep. Lynn Morris told Sparta city council days after the shooting.

To learn more about finding justice for companion animals killed by police, visit the Animal Legal Defense Fund here.