A Rains County Sheriff’s office deputy was fired Thursday after he was accused of shooting a homeowner’s dog last week.
Rains County Sheriff David Traylor on Thursday fired Deputy Jerrod Dooley after the department received threats. Traylor says Dooley, who was hired less than six months ago, used bad judgment and was terminated for his own safety.
Dooley didn't immediately comment Friday.
Cole Middleton, who owns a farm in the county, said he called the sheriff’s office on April 18 after his home was burglarized. He said his firearms and some of his wife’s jewelry were missing.
When the deputy arrived, Middleton was on his tractor working and his 2-year-old blue heeler Candy ran up to the cop car, barking.
“The officer pulls up, and she’s barking like any good dog would do — to let you know someone’s here,” he said.
Middleton said the deputy shot candy before he made it to the driveway, but the dog didn’t die instantly.
“She’s laying right here in the yard, and she’s just on her death bed,” he said. “She’s taking her final breaths, and I plead with him, ‘Please, my guns were stolen. I can’t, I can’t do anything about this,” he said. “Please put her out of her misery. Shoot her again.’ And he wouldn’t do it.”
Middleton later drowned his dog named Candy.
The deputy told Middleton he felt threatened by Candy and shot her.
“I feel bad about shooting your dog,” the deputy said in a video Middleton took after the incident. “I had no choice. I wasn’t going to get bit.”
The sheriff’s office released a statement after the incident issuing condolences to the family, and the deputy was placed on administrative leave.
“We would most importantly like to offer our condolences to the Middleton family — as they have suffered a hard loss,” the statement read. “The Rains County Sheriff’s Office has never encountered an issue of this nature — but plan to make positive changes for the future.”
Candy’s owners sent her body to be examined. Kevin Bankston, with Hopkins County Veterinary Clinic, said his results showed the dog was shot from the back of the head towards the nose while retreating from a shooter.
On Thursday, the Rains County District Attorney’s office issued a statement, citing the deputy’s termination by Sheriff David Taylor.
“There is an investigation going on into the actions of the former deputy,” the statement reads. “When, and if, a criminal case is presented to my office by a law enforcement agency for prosecution, we will treat this case like any other.”
In the meantime, Middleton said his family is mourning the loss of a friend.
“It was like a bad dream,” he said. “You’ve been robbed, and now they come and they shoot your dog, your child.”
A Facebook page called “Justice for Candy Middleton” was created and as of Thursday evening had more than 21,000 likes and countless comments of support and outrage. Posters even created memes in light of the situation, and the family issued a statement on the page to not to threaten the sheriff’s office.
Middleton said he received calls of support from as far away as Canada wanting to show their support and offer condolences.