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Dog euthanized after police pursuit in Milton

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
September 25, 2010
— When Milton resident Jillian Beaty got home from work late Tuesday afternoon, she found blood in her house, a window knocked ajar and her 8-year-old Shar-Pei dog, Magoo, missing.

Beaty went out to look for her dog, fearing the worst. Her instincts proved true.


Magoo was dead.


Beaty and her husband, Dale, soon learned that their family dog had been euthanized because of injuries he suffered while forcing his way out of the window and later when he was intentionally struck by a city vehicle that was pursuing him.


In a report Friday, the Milton Police Department said the dog was seen running about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday on the city’s west side, blocks from the family’s one-story home on Wildfire Lane. Officers responding to citizen reports of a bloody pit bull found Magoo near Milton High School.


The dog had no collar or identification and ran from officers and a public works employee who was helping police.


Worried that the bleeding dog had attacked someone and that it was near a school, police chased Magoo on foot and then began to pursue the dog south through Schilberg Park with a police squad car and a public works truck.


According to the report, public works employee Donnie Zimmerman was driving the truck, with school resource officer Jim Martin riding along and another officer following behind in a squad car.


After unsuccessful attempts to lasso the dog from vehicles, police said Zimmerman bumped the dog with the front of his truck, sending the dog rolling.


Police said the maneuver was an attempt to “slow the dog down, or to stop it so that we could catch it.”


But Magoo kept running, finally collapsing on a deck at a house on Tower Hill Drive, east of Schilberg Park and blocks south of his family’s home, police said.


Police subdued the dog there and contacted the Rock County Humane Society, which contracts with the city for removal of stray animals.


Magoo showed no aggression toward officers during the incident, police said.


James Hurley, operations manager at the humane society, said he took Magoo from Milton to the shelter in Janesville late Tuesday morning and decided to euthanize it there because the dog was bleeding heavily and was in shock.


Hurley said Magoo was having trouble breathing, but he said police hadn’t told him they had hit the dog with a vehicle.


“I was only there for five minutes. It was a scoop and go,” he said.


Hurley said he checked Magoo for microchip identification and found no hits on the humane society’s database for missing Shar-Peis.


Since Tuesday, the Beatys have been distraught over the death of their dog. It was only on Friday, however, that they learned Magoo was hit by a city vehicle.


Dale Beaty said he now believes Magoo was mistreated by police because the dog looked like a pit bull or a fighting dog. Beaty said Magoo actually was gentle and skittish and often cringed or ran from strangers.


“He never so much as nipped at anyone,” he said.


The Beatys don’t know what led to Magoo getting loose while they were at work Tuesday, but they said common household noises sometimes scared the dog. They think something spooked him, causing him to ram the window Tuesday and injure himself.


The Beatys also said they left Magoo’s collar and identification off indoors because it irritated the wrinkles on the dog’s neck.


Cassandra Fowler, a veterinarian at the Janesville Animal Medical Center, said she conducted a necropsy on Magoo on Friday at the Beatys’ request.


She told the Gazette that the dog appeared to have major internal injuries to his lungs, the kind of injuries an animal would normally suffer when hit by a vehicle.


She said it’s unlikely the dog would have gotten lung injuries from ramming open a window, and she said the humane society made the correct decision to euthanize Magoo.


Beaty said he’s seeking a police investigation into the incident.


“All we can do is be part of making sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” he said.


Police Chief Jerry Schuetz said police were trying to keep a bloody, unidentified dog away from people, but he declined further comment.



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