Dog's foster owner gives her side of shooting

Magoo, and English Bulldog mix, is cuddled by its foster mother, Susan Ault of Winslow Avenue. Magoo that was shot and killed during a scuffle with another dog on Saturday in her neighborhood.

Susan Ault is disputing the details of a police report about the shooting of her dog.

Ault concedes that she was not at home when her three-year-old foster dog, Magoo, was shot in the 900 block Winslow Avenue about 1:10 p.m. May 16 by a neighbor who was walking his dog.

However, she said she was told by a neighbor that her son was about a foot from grabbing the dog before it was shot and thus, she feels her son was endangered by the man with the gun.

She also noted that: while police called her dog a pit bull, it is actually an English bulldog mix; that it got free because a ring from its collar, not the cable with which it was tied, had broken; and that statements the police say they got from a neighbor differ from what that neighbor told her.

Ault believes Greg Ward, the man who told police he shot the dog, could have made a better attempt to let her son get their dog away from his dog instead of shooting it.

"This all happened within 30 seconds," she said.

She acknowledged that the shooter "was within his legal right, because he felt threatened" by her dog, "But it's not our fault that it happened."

She said her son, 26-year-old Shawn Ault, told her Magoo was outside on his chain and he was getting ready to leave. The dog started barking and carrying on, and her son went outside to get him when he saw Magoo pulling so hard he broke the clasp on his collar.

"I'm not disputing the two dogs got into a fight. I'm disputing that my son was a foot away from the dog when it was shot," she said, expressing concern for his safety. "I do understand the law, that he had the legal right to shoot to protect his animal. I get that."

But she said the man didn't give her son an opportunity to get his dog. 

She said that when her son found out the dog didn't survive after it was taken to the vet, "he was inconsolable."

"In my eyes, I have legitimate concerns if someone tells me my son was right there when the dog was shot. I feel the police officer should have addressed that in person at my home and I was refused that opportunity. What if he would have missed and that bullet ricocheted off a sidewalk? The shooting occurred within inches of my property line."

New Castle police chief Bobby Salem said that a neighbor, the neighbor's son and the man who shot the dog all told the police similar versions of what happened and the details they gave from both sides were consistent. They said they learned that when Ault's son left the porch to get their dog, he was behind Ward when he shot the dog, and Ward was between him and Magoo. The police said that through investigating they determined that the shot was fired in the opposite direction of her son, he added.

He said that Ward told police that he tried yelling at the son to get his dog off of his, before he fired the shot.

"Based on that, we determined the shooting was justified and it wasn't done in a dangerous manner," Salem said.

No charges were filed against Ward.

He said the police investigated the potential criminal end of the incident and have turned the investigation over to Tom Wharry, the city's dog law officer.


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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