MOUNT DORA, Fla. - A Mount Dora man says he fatally shot a neighborhood dog because the animal had a history of being aggressive, but the slain dog's owner says her canine didn't deserve to die.
Deputies from the Lake County Sheriff's Office said they were called to 2000 Cherry Lane around 10:30 p.m. Thursday and found Sandy, a brown and white pit bull mix, lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to her head.
Justin Graves admitted to deputies and neighbors that he shot the dog, saying he did it because the dog was charging at his stepmother and he was trying to help her, according to the report.
Graves told deputies that his stepmother knocked on his window and yelled for him to stop the dog from charging at her so he came outside with a flashlight and a shotgun. He pointed the flashlight at the dog because he knew it was skittish about flashlights and the dog started to walk away.
Deputies said Graves shot the dog as she was walking away.
"There was dogs barking, violence going on, my stepmom banged on the window -- people are running for their lives, it was grab and go," Graves said.
Records show that the Lake County Sheriff's Office has cited Sandy's owner Aimee Lynn Callahan on more than one occasion because the dog was roaming loose in the neighborhood, including an incident the day before the shooting.
Animal control officers noted in their report that the dog was "extremely aggressive."
Callahan admits that Sandy would escape her yard even after she had work done to her fence, but she denies that the dog was dangerous.
"My responsibility is to have the dog stay in the yard. I totally understand that," she said. "But you can't shoot a dog and go back into your house and continue playing PlayStation. You can't do that."
Since the shooting, she's put up a "Justice for Sandy" sign in her yard and she's demanding that Graves face criminal charges.
"I'm angry," Callahan said, wiping away the tears. "It's inhumane. He has no remorse."
Graves said that while he does feel guilty about shooting the dog, he doesn't regret it because he stopped the dog from potentially hurting someone in the neighborhood.
"I have emotions, I'm torn up over it, I've been uneasy, threw up the next morning," Graves said. "But as far as I completely regret it? No, the dog had to go one way or another, either the backyard, the pound -- away."
Officials from the Lake County Sheriff's Office said the deputy who investigated the shooting didn't feel comfortable arresting Graves at the scene because the dog has a documented history of aggression.
The case will most likely be turned over to the State Attorney's Office to determine if any criminal charges will be filed.
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