A Capitol Police officer shot and seriously wounded a dog in a Capitol Hill park Wednesday night. Yesterday, the dog's owner said that the officer was "too quick" in using his gun, a charge echoed by another witness to the shooting.
Capitol police spokesman Jeffrey Zanotti said the officer, David Miller, 32, an eight-year member of the force, originally was placed on routine restricted duty after the incident but returned to full duty yesterday after a preliminary investigation "determined that there was no wrongdoing" on his part.
He said the dog attacked Miller and a police dog that Miller had on a leash.
Inspector Bob Howe said that the department's internal affairs division is investigating the incident and allegations by the dog's owner that police refused to take her dog to an animal hospital after the shooting, hindered her when she asked a passing motorist for assistance and lied when they told her the Humane Society refused to take her dog to the hospital.
"What would happen if I were walking my dog in the park and I had him on a leash and -- as in many cases -- another dog comes up and growls?" asked the dog's owner, Rebecca McClellan, a consultant at Georgetown University's Institute for Health Policy Analysis.
"Am I to take a pistol out of my purse and shoot the dog? . . . A gun is not a solution to a lot of things."
Zanotti said the incident occurred about 9:30 p.m. in Senate Park, an area on the north side of Constitution Avenue across from the Capitol, as Miller and his dog, Vulcan, were on routine patrol.
A large brown dog charged the pair, Zanotti said, and Miller kicked at the dog in an attempt to ward off the attack. Then, "fearing for the canine and himself," Miller drew his revolver and shot one round, striking the attacking dog, Zanotti said.
McClellan, 31, said she took her dog -- an 85-pound mixed Labrador and Great Dane named Kalamazoo -- to the park with her boyfriend and his dog so they could run without their leashes. "We heard a dog barking from this wooded area and both dogs became alert and went in the direction of the barking. We called them but Kalamazoo continued in the direction.
"I ran about five steps after him yelling, 'Kal! Kal!' and I stopped because I saw a flash and heard a noise and then I heard Kal yelp and I stopped and focused on this policeman . . . . I went to him and I said, 'did you try to shoot my dog? He's a pet. Why would you try to shoot my dog? You saw us playing over there.' And then he said, simply, 'I shot that dog.' "
William Brooks, an electrician from Brandywine who said he was walking through the park at the time of the incident, recalled that he heard the barking and "I could tell they the dogs were in a tangle. After several seconds, the officer pulled his revolver . . . took aim and fired. Why he shot the dog, I don't know."
Officer Miller could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Kalamazoo was taken to the Friendship Hospital for Animals, where he was treated for a bullet wound in the back, McClellan said. A hospital spokeswoman said the dog was "resting comfortably" last night.