MEDWAY, Maine — A town police officer investigating a hit-and-run accident at a town bank wounded a black Labrador retriever he said attacked him Saturday, officials said Sunday.
The dog, Jake, lost about half its right ear, and its right shoulder and right foreleg were wounded in the shooting, which occurred at about 1:15 p.m. Saturday, officials said.
The dog’s owner, Frank T. Bishop, and East Millinocket Police Chief Cameron McDunnah clashed over the incident. Bishop said while Jake is known for barking at people who come onto Bishop’s Hale Street property, Officer Anthony Redmond had no business shooting him.
“My dog doesn’t attack people. He is a service dog,” Bishop said Sunday. “The dog is very peaceful. But when people pull in the yard, he barks. That is his job.”
McDunnah described Redmond as an experienced officer, who works full-time at the Lincoln Police Department for several years and also worked for other departments. McDunnah said Redmond responded appropriately to the threat the dog represented and only shot the dog after repeatedly yelling to Bishop to call off his dog.
Bishop disagreed, saying the dog went through the wide-open door with Bishop, never expecting what happened next. He said he never heard Redmond say anything to him except to ask, “Are you Frank?”
“I don’t want to sound callous about what happened to the dog: That’s not how I feel,” McDunnah said. “But Tony (Redmond) did what he was supposed to do. In speaking to Tony, it was clear that he was reacting to a threat. It’s just an unfortunate incident.”
Bishop set off the incident by letting Jake out of his house when Redmond came to Bishop’s home in response to a hit-and-run accident at Bangor Savings Bank that was reported at about noon Saturday, McDunnah said.
Redmond went to Bishop’s home because the vehicle a witness saw in the hit-and-run — a Ford Ranger — was still registered to Bishop, despite his having sold the truck to a relative about a year before, McDunnah said.
“I sold the truck to my brother, and he never took the plates off,” Bishop said. “I came to the door, and I said to the officer, ‘Can I help you?’ He said, ‘Are you Frank?’ I said, ‘Yeah, just let me get my shoes on.’ And I was pulling on one shoe when I heard the bang (of the gun).”
Bishop said he looked outside and saw Jake running into the house. Then he saw Redmond, his gun still drawn, laying on his back on the ground, apparently having fallen as he backed away from the dog.
“As soon as it happened, he [Redmond] jumped in his cruiser and took off,” Bishop said. “I was screaming at him, ‘What … did you do that for?’ The dog is the most peaceful dog in the world.”
Redmond told McDunnah he heard Bishop threatening him. Noticing he damaged his portable radio when he fell, Redmond went to his car and called for backup, backing his cruiser off Bishop’s property and out of sight. When a Penobscot County deputy sheriff and a state police trooper arrived, they and Redmond backed farther away.
Bishop, meanwhile, said he was inside his trailer, trying to stem the flow of blood from the dog’s wounds. He yelled for help until a neighbor responded. When the two took the dog to a Medway veterinary office, the other police officers hadn’t yet arrived, Bishop said.
With the Medway clinic closed, they returned to Bishop’s home to get Bishop’s cellphone and find a veterinary clinic that was open. There they saw Redmond and the other officers, Bishop said.
Bishop asked the officers for an escort to a Brewer animal clinic, but they refused, only offering directions to it, Bishop said.
Bishop is glad about his dog’s seemingly quick recovery, though the surgery cost him about $1,000.
“He is actually better than I thought,” Bishop said. “The doctor told me to keep him walking. By the end of the day he was putting weight on his foot.”
He is less pleased with the bill, which he plans to submit to the town, feeling Redmond was wrong to shoot the dog.
“There were a hundred different things he could have done with me sitting right here,” Bishop said. “I think the guy is afraid of dogs, and he should have said something right then instead of saying ‘Are you Frank?’ If there was a problem, I wouldn’t have turned around to put my shoe on.”
Redmond, meanwhile, issued a summons to Kurt Fernald, 23, of Medway for leaving the scene of a property-damage accident. Fernald is due in Millinocket District Court on Oct. 8, McDunnah said.