New Castle Police Department

New Castle police say they will not file charges against a man who shot a pit bull to protect his own leashed dog while walking on Winslow Avenue.

Gregory Ward, who lives in that neighborhood, said he and his wife were walking home from a convenience store at 1:10 p.m. Saturday when a pit bull broke loose from its chain at a house near Stanton Street and attacked his 2-year-old Australian Shepherd named Wolverine.

He said his wife had Wolverine by the leash and when the pit bull attacked, Wolverine broke free from her. The pit bull retreated twice before attacking Wolverine a third time, he said. That is when Ward drew his pistol and shot the pit bull, named Magoo, in the back end, intending only to injure it, he said.

Magoo was rushed by his owners to a veterinarian emergency room, where the dog died, according to an account posted on Facebook.

The pit bull, which was tied up on its owner’s property, “came running full charge at us and snapped its cable,” Ward said. “I didn’t want to have to shoot the dog. I didn’t want it to die, but I shot it to stop it from attacking my dog. This dog was on a mission straight to hurt him.”

He added that he has had his gun and permit for many years, and this was the first time he ever had to pull it on anything or anyone and use it.

He said Wolverine did not suffer any serious injuries, and he is thankful that his 12-year-old daughter wasn’t with them when the incident occurred.

“My dog is my child and part of my family, and I’m going to protect him,” he said.

New Castle police were called about the incident, and an officer who questioned people at the scene reported that the pit bull, which had been was tied to a leash at a nearby house, broke free and attacked the walking couple’s dog.

The owners of the shepherd screamed for help and tried unsuccessfully to physically get the pit bull off their dog, police reported. Ward, who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, fired a .380 pistol at the pit bull’s hind end, trying to wound it, the police reported said.

During the investigation, the police interviewed both animal owners along with independent witnesses who all told similar version of the events, they reported.

The police concluded that the shooting of the pit bull was justified because the owner had the right to protect his animal. The police contacted the Lawrence County District Attorney’s office and they concurred that the shooting of the dog was legal, according to police chief Bobby Salem.

Despite Facebook postings saying that the police did not investigate it, “we did a thorough investigation,” Salem said, adding that the husband gave the police a statement that was filmed on a body camera. He said that independent witnesses also gave similar accounts.

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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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