PORT ST. JOHN, Fla. - Thursday began routine at Laurie Lewellen-Lutter's home, with her daughter letting their two Bullypit dogs out in the backyard first thing in the morning.
Just half an hour later, Lewellen-Lutter would be consoling her dogs as they bled from bullet wounds, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
She wants to know how it happened.
"Somehow, the dogs got out of the backyard," the 45-year-old Port St. John resident and grandmother said. "I drove around to look for them. I stopped and saw a bunch of cop cars and my dogs were running to me."
Someone from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office told her a deputy had shot both dogs because they were running loose and being aggressive.
"I opened my car door and the dogs jumped on me and they're gushing blood," Lewellen-Lutter said. "I can't even understand this."
The dogs are father and son. Lewellen-Lutter has had Leo for two years. She adopted Leo's offspring, Titan, as a puppy in February.
The dogs are a each a mix of an American bulldog and an American pit bull terrier, known as Bullypit.
The bullets struck Leo in the hind leg and Titan in his neck, Lewellen-Lutter said.
Veterinarians at Parkway Animal Hospital in Port St. John operated on the dogs and will see them for a follow-up appointment Monday, she said.
Lewellen-Lutter expects a report on the incident from the Sheriff's Office next week. She said she was told the report was not complete Thursday.
The Sheriff's Office does not respond to questions from Florida Today.
"While Sheriff Wayne Ivey and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office are always willing to answer questions and work closely with our great partners in the media who work hard every day to accurately report the news, we do not under any circumstances respond to questions from Florida Today," Ivey wrote in a statement to Florida Today last week.
Lewellen-Lutter said she and her daughter woke up just after 7:40 a.m. The routine, she said, is the dogs are let out into the fenced-in backyard to relieve themselves.
When she was preparing to leave to take her 14-year-old daughter to school, the mother said she and her daughter saw the dogs were not in the backyard of their Betty Avenue home, west of Interstate 95 and south of Space Coast High School. The two left immediately to search for the dogs.
They later discovered a hole the dogs had dug under the fence line leading to a neighbor's property.
Lewellen-Lutter drove east to Leonard Avenue and saw several sheriff's cars. No information was available about what prompted the Sheriff's Office's presence in the neighborhood.
That's when she discovered her wounded pets.
"The deputy told me, 'We shot your dogs because they were aggressive and were chasing a cat,'" Lewellen-Lutter said.
The deputy also told her the dogs' behavior was a concern because children would be out at school bus stops at the time.
But Lewellen-Lutter described her dogs as docile and timid.
"They're afraid of their own shadows," she said. "They don't bark and they don't jump on people when they walk in the house. I adopted Titan because I wanted another dog just like Leo."
Lewellen-Lutter started a fundraiser on Facebook to get help paying for the dogs' medical bills. Thursday's surgeries cost $900.
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