A family dog was shot and killed at a residence on South High Street in Hillsboro last weekend by a neighbor who said he felt threatened by the animal.
The incident has gained considerable attention on social media, particularly on Facebook where most comments question whether the shooting was justified.
Hillsboro Police Chief Todd Whited said Friday that the shooting was investigated and it was determined that the person who shot the dog, which was a Great Dane, was acting within the law.
“That’s how we have to look at it, whether we like it or not,” said Whited.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, when a dog “is chasing or approaching in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack” and a person feels they will be harmed, they are within their rights to shoot the dog.
The dog’s owner, Eric Willis, on Friday said he and Kevin Barreras have been next-door neighbors for about 10 years, but have never spoken.
Willis has Great Danes, and while he said they can be intimidating to some because of their size, they are gentle, he said.
Willis said the dogs are like children to his wife.
And while his yard isn’t fenced, there’s an underground electric fence, said Willis. But when asked Friday by The Times-Gazette, Willis said that like thousands of other local AEP customers, his electricity was out that day.
AEP had a power failure beginning around 6 a.m. on June 6 that impacted almost 6,000 customers in Hillsboro and much of Highland County.
Willis said he confronted Barreras after his dog was killed, and that the neighbors engaged in a verbal altercation.
On Friday, Barreras told The Times-Gazette that last Saturday he was out mowing his yard. He said that he occasionally carries a pistol on him because his neighbor’s dogs are sometimes “threatening.”
As he mowed Saturday, the dog came at him twice, he said. It “scared me,” he said, and he spun his zero-turn mower around so he would be facing the animal. He drew his pistol intending to fire a warning shot, Barreras said, and then the dog “lunged” and he fired.
He said he wasn’t even sure if he hit the dog, but he said it yelped and went down the hill to its own yard.
“It’s not anything I wanted to do,” he said, adding that he never wants to do it again.
According to Whited, Barreras said the Great Dane had been in his yard in the week leading up to the incident and that it had cornered his wife, who fled into their house.
According to Whited, that incident was not reported.
Barreras said he never reported any issues to the police because he “didn’t want to complain.”
The police chief said that any time an issue with a dog occurs, the department suggests that people notify law enforcement so they can handle it, “so it doesn’t escalate to this,” he said.
The police chief said the department has not had any prior complaints on the Great Dane that was killed.
He said the department has consulted with Hillsboro City Prosecutor Fred Beery who said this was a civil matter and could be pursued as such by the dog’s owner.
Whited said the owner of the dog will not be cited for having an unrestrained dangerous animal, even though the prosecutor said such a citation could be issued.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd. Jeff Gilliland contributed to this story.