Woman praises officer who shot attacking dog

Sherry Jeffcoat with her dogs, Beau, and Boosa.
By: 
STEVE ROGERS
Staff Writer

A West Point woman praises a police officer for saving her life from an attacking dog but laments the dog losing its life.

The incident Monday in a popular walking area in West Point highlights a problem police have been combatting since the summer. The owner of the dog will be written a citation.

“It absolutely was a nightmare, it really was. Those officers saved my life. We would have been at the mercy of that dog if the officers hadn’t been there,” said Sherry Jeffcoat, who suffered a compressed fracture of a vertebrae during her scuffle with a pit bull mix that was attacking her 15-year-old lab mix and 10-year-old terrier mix.

“The officer didn’t want to do it, but he didn’t haven a choice,” she added, referring to Sgt. Alex Jackson.

Police responded to the area of Brame and Cromwell streets at about 10:30 a.m. Monday in response to a call of a roaming dog. Officer Chantise Henius, who has been on the job less than a month, and Jackson had a report earlier of a similar dog jumping on a man less than two blocks away near Brame and Grove streets.

That man, Johnny Cagelosi, drove himself to his doctor later to be checked out.

When Henius arrived, they spoke with Jeffcoat, telling her of the other incident and for her to be careful with her two dogs, which she had on leashes. They were returning to her car when the pit bull came up from one of the deep drainage areas that runs along the Kitty Dill Walkway in the area and attacked Jeffcoat’s lab mix, Boosa.

“I heard it coming and Officer Henius yelled, ‘Hurry’,” Jeffcoat recalled. As she struggled to control her dogs while trying to fend off the pit, she was pulled to the ground she said.

“It wrenched me around. I was trying to get him pulled back and all I could see was him trying to get a good bite into my dog,” she explained of the traumatic moments.

Jackson pulled his service revolver and fired two shots at the attacking dog, which retreated to the drainage area.

“He hesitated a moment. I could tell he didn’t want to do it, but he didn’t have much choice,” Jeffcoat continued.

Police Chief Avery Cook and Mayor Robbie Robinson agreed.

“He couldn’t just let it continue. If that dog had jumped on her, it could have been really bad. He did what he had to do,” Cook said.

“Oh Lord no,” Robinson said of whether Jackson might be disciplined.

The dog’s own, 23-year-old Chelsey Rice, of 91 Tom Bayne St., arrived in the area moments later looking for her dog. She got it out of the drainage area and took it to a veterinarian where it had to be euthanized.

Cook said neighbors told officers the dog frequently gets lose and roams the area.

Despite the dog having to be put down, the department will write Rice a citation for dog roaming at large.

“We’ve been talking about this problem all summer. This is why we’ve been stopping people and have written some citations for dog ordinance violations. We were afraid something like this could happen,” the chief said.

“Ms. Rice was upset about it all. But we explained it, what happened and how bad it could have been,” Cook continued.

“Nobody loves dogs and animals more than I do. That’s why we rescue dogs. I hate this, but if the officers hadn’t been there, I don’t know what would have happened. The dog was in attack mode,” Jeffcoat lamented, noting she later found a puncture wound in her dog’s shoulder.

The other incident in the area happened less than two blocks away. In that case Cangelosi told officers a large brown dog jumped up on him and knocked him down, but he wasn’t sure if it was playing or being aggressive, Robinson said of his conversation with Cangelosi.

“We aren’t sure it was the same dog, but it was similar description and right nearby,” Robinson said.

In a social media conversation Monday night, another resident of the area said the dog had been to her home earlier and had not been aggressive.

The city’s Animal Control department spent part of Tuesday trying to determine whether a test could be run to find out whether the dog had rabies because Rice had him buried after it was euthanized. They also are trying to use the incident as another reminder of the city’s vicious animal ordinance, which covers pit bulls and some other varieties and puts restrictions on owners.

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