BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - A Bay St. Louis pet owner believes a neighbor shot her dog out of irrational fear, simply because it's a Pit Bull. But the neighbor told police the animal charged him, and he feared for his family's safety.
Four-year-old Matty is the Pit Bull that was shot. She's recovering at home right now. Matty's owner, Yolanda Christophe, said the trouble started after she got home from work Saturday evening.
"Usually, I let the dogs off the leash to go use the bathroom as soon as I get home," Christophe recalled. "Maybe five minutes after I let them off the leash, I heard five shots. I knew something was wrong. I started walking toward the street. I walked toward the street, and Matty was coming around the corner. When she came around the corner, she had blood."
Ronnie Vanny Junior declined an on-camera interview, but told investigators he shot the pit bull after the dog charged him.
"Per his statements and witnesses statements, the dog came up to his driveway where his wife and kids were out playing. To him, the dog appeared menacing," said Bay St. Louis Police Chief Mike DeNardo.
Police said Vanny told them he got his wife and children in the house, then grabbed his gun and began running the dog off. When he got the dog to the end of his road, the animal turned and charged him, and that's when he opened fire.
"If it was a Collie, a German Shepard, or any other dog, it would have never got shot," Christophe said. "I really feel like that. I feel like she was targeted because she was a Pit Bull."
Christophe believes recent cases involving Pit Bull attacks in Hancock County has her neighbor and others on edge. She said her Pit Bull is not violent toward people.
"I really believe that it might have something to do with everything that's been going on, but it's all about how you raise your dog. It's all about who you have around your dog. My kids been around this dog ever since she was born."
Her neighbor said the Pit Bull constantly breaks free from her leash, and he's called police and animal control numerous times over the past year.
"If the police had been called out here on numerous occasions, why wasn't my dog taken, if it was so vicious?" Christophe countered. "That's what they're saying. They've called animal control, they've called the police. I've never been aware of this. Except when I came home and the police were here, they said the dog was not on a leash. Never said she was terrorizing anybody, hurting anybody, trying to bite anybody."
Police say it's a matter that will likely be settled in court.
"We will issue a citation summons to both of them to appear in court and let the judge hear both sides," said Chief DeNardo.
Christophe said her neighbor should have been arrested for discharging a firearm within the city limits. But Chief DeNardo said the exception to that rule is when you're protecting your property, family, or defending yourself.