OCEAN CITY - A police officer shot a Rottweiler twice after it reportedly became aggressive and could not be restrained by its owners Sunday.
The owner of the dog said Sunday afternoon that the Rottweiler was not threatening police and the shots that were fired could have hurt a number of people who were present with the dog.
“They didn’t give us a warning or anything,” said Nicholas Pyle, 24, who was gathered with his family outside his home on the 700 block of Bay Avenue when the dog was shot. “(The police officer) had his gun out, and he knew what he was going to do. No one was going to convince him otherwise.”
According to police reports, at about 1 a.m., police responded to the 700 block of Bay Avenue to investigate a large fight in progress.
When Patrolman John Vogt and his K-9 partner, Deuce, arrived, they immediately noticed a large disorderly group in the vicinity.
Police said that as Vogt and Deuce approached the group, a large Rottweiler became aggressive and its owners were unable to restrain him.
“The Rottweiler then aggressively charged towards Patrolman John Vogt,” police said.
Vogt then fired two rounds from his duty weapon striking the dog both times.
Pyle said the police officer was responding to a “scuffle” that was taking place across the street from Pyle’s home.
Pyle said his dog, Noodles, an 8-year-old female Rottweiler, was not leashed when the police officer arrived, but he said the dog has never acted aggressively toward anyone in the neighborhood, including the police officer that arrived on Sunday.
“She didn’t even bark at him,” Pyle said. “She didn’t do anything.”
Pyle said two shots hit Noodles. One shot grazed her face while the other shattered her leg. Pyle said that the officer did not tell them where they could take the dog, and the dog was taken to Linwood Animal Hospital at the suggestion of an aunt.
Pyle also said that his mother was sitting next to the dog when the shots were fired.
“That bullet could have ricocheted and hit my mother or someone else,” Pyle said.
Joe Marciano, 29, Pyle's neighbor during the summer, said he watched the event unfold from across the street.
Marciano said he and his family have interacted with Noodles in the past and that the dog has never posed a threat to anyone passing by the property.
“That dog never ventures into the street,” Marciano said. “There are probably thousands of people who have walked or driven by that house who have seen Noodles and she has never done anything to them. She is a beloved family dog.”
Marciano also said the shots were fired while people were close to the dog and that they were not addressing the scuffle that prompted the police response.
“If anything, the (police) dog was the one that would have prompted Noodles to do anything,” Marciano said. “And I’m sure that dog could have handled things on its own.”
Meanwhile, many of the people originally involved in the initial fight fled the area and were never located.
The incident remains under investigation by the Ocean City Police Department and the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office.