4 min read

Police Chief Resigns After Shooting Caged Puppy

After police in Sparta, Missouri, found her lost pet, Elizabeth Womack should have had five days to retrieve her dog, Chase. But when she visited the police station just hours later, Chief Andrew Spencer had already caged Chase, taken him to the department firing range and shot him in the head.

Womack says it would be several more days before police even told her the rescued lab-pit bull mix, who escaped from her backyard earlier that day, was dead.

"He was a playful and loving puppy who wanted to do nothing but play and cuddle. He played with our son and watched over him. They were like brothers, which was the reason we got him," wrote Womack on Facebook. "He was more than a pet, he was family. Now dead because of chief Spencer."

On November 10, police say Spencer responded to reports of an aggressive dog and found Chase, whom he put in a dog crate with a catcher pole. The police chief claims he then contacted several shelters who refused to take the dog beforeshooting Chase so he could respond more quickly to a car accident.

"Due to the higher priority call and the imminent destruction of the dog, I decided to destroy the dog," wrote Spencer in his official report. "I transported the animal to the Sparta Police Department firing range and destroyed the animal with a single shot to the head."

City Attorney Harry Styron would later tell the Springfield News-Leader that Sparta requires loose dogs to be held for five days after they are found.

In his report, Spencer listed possible charges to file against Womack, including animal abandonment and dog-at-large, but it was the police chief who would eventually be punished over the incident. After being placed on administrative leave for violating a city ordinance last month, Spencer resigned from the department on Monday.

At least one person, however, is unlikely to be satisfied with the outcome.

"We had a kennel for Chase, and all [my son] does is he sits in the kennel now," Womack told local station KSPR. "He'll just sit there and look around and call for Chase."

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