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Animal Control officer in Brunswick County shoots family dog

READ MORE: Animal Control officer in Brunswick County shoots family dog
Labor Day morning Lee Gushman's 15-year-old German Shepherd mix was shot and killed in Ocean Isle Beach by a Brunswick County Animal Control officer. "What I want people to know is your dog can be right down the street and get shot by animal control officers because they have made a bad judgment call," said the dog’s owner Lee Gushman. Stoley, the German Shepherd, was hard of hearing, tired and had poor eyesight, but the officer thought the dog might be rabid because he was walking around in circles, biting the air. "Our dog is 15 years old and we couldn't walk him on a leash anymore because he just had a stroke and he normally stays right around the porch. He was walking in circles lost," said Gushman. Walking near the edge of a neighborhood pond Stoley fell in. When it appeared Stoley was going to drown the animal control officer shot the dog. Gushman added, "He shot him without checking out whether he was a dog or a … He was our pet for 15 years. We have 5 children who are now missing their pet." David Stanley, the Environmental Health Director for Brunswick County, told WWAY that it appears the officer was not sure if the animal was a coyote or a dog. In fact, the initial paperwork listed Stoley as a coyote. "He said had I known this was your pet I would not have done this,” said Gushman. “He said was sorry. He said it was a judgment call and he saw him disoriented. He thought he might possibly have rabies. I said, ‘Were you going to send him off to have him checked?’ No, because he had not been a threat to anybody.” With Monday being a holiday, the animal control officer is required to file a full written report to the county health department Tuesday.

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I think this mental case

I think this mental case officer should be fired and prosacuted for his actions. This idiot should not be out in public with a gun. Mentaly disturbed people like this may hurt people next, he needs to be taken off the street.


I personally know the family of this dog, Stolle, and knew Stolle also. I also have a dog that is 19 years old and is in pretty darn good health, those of you that say he should have been put down know nothing of elderly animals and the people that care for them. Stolle, the last I saw him was in good health also, a bit slow, like my dog, and some people that are aged. I would not wish to put down my dog Cocoa any more than I would wish to put down my mother if she were in poor health. The very first time I met Stolle he walked up and nuzzled me and was never nervous or threatening in ANY way. As far as the "animal control" officer goes, I am surprised that he or anyone else thought that Stolle was a coyote! He has generally been shaved as of the last few years! How many neatly shaved or clipped coyote's have you seen lately? Obviously the dog was in distress, how many people have you heard of, in distress, unable to speak, acting strangely that have been shot twice to kill them (elderly with alzhiemers?)?? (I also realize that it was a DOG not a person, as some may say, but it was a FAMILY member). I understand the officer may have been nervous and was trying to do his job, but I really think he could have taken more time to assess the situation considering the dog was not threatening anyone and it should have been obvious that it was a family pet, since he was shaved or clipped. I also wonder, are there no darts for animal control officers to put an animal out so they CAN asess a situation like this more closely? This is as bad as accusing someone of a horrible crime and giving them the death penalty, killing them and then finding out they were actually innocent. My sincerest condolences to the family of Stolle. What sweet eyes he had. He will be missed.


I understand and appreciated the fact that you have enough compassion in your heart to forgive the animal control officer here, but the facts are the facts and what appears to have been carried out on Labor Day borderlines on criminal negligence in my opinion. First of all, and it has been beaten to death here already, but it appears that the efforts of the animal control officer to clearly identify the animal in question as a threat to the public was just not carried out with due diligence according to the article and your statements above. I would assume that the ability to identify an animal as threat would be of a paramount importance as to whether someone is fit to serve as an animal control officer. Furthermore I am bit surprised to hear that animal control officers carry firearms. I am not trying to debate whether animal control officers should have firearms, but I am openly questioning how the weapon was handled in this situation. First, it sounds like that the incident took place in a residential neighborhood, so it is safe to assume that the area is not sparsely populated. Second of all, if the animal control officer fired from 50 yards or more away there is a lot of room for error in his shot. The chances of an arrant shot missing and/or deflecting and then hitting an unattended party are low but the risk is there, especially in a neighborhood setting. It appears that the officer took this risk based solely off of the comments of the individual that made the original 911 call. Please read the link to the story below if you feel that I am blowing these risks out of proportion.

dog shot

I am the owner of Stoley who was an incredible animal companion to me, my husband, and our five boys. He was old and had all the issues that surround his age. He was also still very much alive, giving and receiving love everyday. He was not ready to die this way after all of the great years he had given to us. He should have died with his family on a nice comfy bed with us by his side. I feel like Labor Day was the perfect storm with lots of mistakes taking place that ultimately took him from us in the most horribly way. It hurts to think that someone thought of our Stoley as a threat, especially after all the love and benefit he had always offered. It all started with a frantic phone call to 911 by a neighbor who thought Stoley was a wild animal with rabies. We all know people like that who take things out of context and this time Stoley had to pay the price. Stoley's rabies vaccine didn't expire until May 5, 2011. The animal control officer was called out on an emergency call with thoughts that people were in danger. Instead of taking a close look at the situation upon arrival to the location, he reacted without even enough observation to see that Stoley was a pet, an old man pet who just needed help. There was absolutely no reason he couldn't have walked up to Stoley and put his hands all over him. Stoley would have never tried to bite. If he would have just gotten closer he would have known. I was told the animal control officer's actions on my pet were taken 50 to 60 yards away. He had his gun in hand and the dog was not thrashing with any aggression. He certainly could have gotten closer and he would have helped Stoley not killed him! I would have been so happy, and would have been so blessed, if I were given the opportunity to pick up my dog from the animal shelter this morning. Mistake number three lies right here with me, the owner. I should have never trusted that my pet would never wonder off. I should have never let him sit on the porch without me in his presence. I should have looked down the street a little further, a little earlier. Stoley should have never been given the opportunity to get lost. As for the animal control officer, I forgive him. I must forgive him. I feel like he would have never intentionally hurt us. He didn't know what he was taking from us at the time. He didn't know what a fine animal friend that Stoley was. He didn't know how MUCH we loved him. He didn't know that Stoley was like a child to me. He didn't know that Stoley was no threat to anyone. I just want him to tell the story so maybe next time the next person will be more careful and assess the situation a little better. The animal control officer is not a bad man! As for the caller who made my dog look like an enemy, a killer, a threat.. you need help! Think about what you say and do to others. You have caused so much pain! To all of you people who can't wait to catch someone breaking a neighborhood rule or making a simple harmless mistake, may you realize you are not perfect either. May you realize life is so much bigger and better than these petty things. Love your neighbor and do unto your neighbor as you would want them to do to you. Thanks for hearing my story and I hope that you can see how much a person can love their pet. Please learn from these mistakes, Lee



Stoley's mom...

I am very sorry for your loss, but as the owner of a dog myself I have to say yours was mistake number 1, not 3, as having Stoley on a leash while on the porch would have prevented the entire incident. Also, I'm not saying the officer was right or wrong, but people who were not there should stop 2nd guessing the officer's actions.


I am so sincerely sorry for your loss. I do know the feeling, but not in such a crude, evil way. Stoley was a good dog and even the first time I met him he nuzzeled me and said Hi. Cocoa is 19 and I still don't wish to put her down any more than I wish to put my mother down for being elderly. She's like Stoley, a bit slow, sleeps a lot, but otherwise in good health. She's a part of the family, the whole family. I can't believe anyone would think he was a coyote! I assume he was still shaved down some. I don't know how many shaved coyotes are hangin around that area?? Don't animal control officers have darts to calm the animal to check the situation out before shooting them? Hope I don't live around there when I'm old and if I have alzhiemers and wander around confused the cops might just shoot me even if there doesn't appear to be any immediate threat to others! Honestly, how often has THAT happened? I know, most people think "it's just a dog, an old dog", but they have no idea how much love and care is involved in owning a dog, cat or any pet. It's just like taking care of an elderly parent, you love them and care for them til they go, and then you miss them. Stoley will be missed, what sweet eyes he had.

Bad comment, uncalled for.

Quote by Guest in Ohio: (Hope I don't live around there when I'm old and if I have alzhiemers and wander around confused the cops might just shoot me even if there doesn't appear to be any immediate threat to others!) What a terrible thing to say about our officers. You are talking about a human life compared to a dog. Yes a like dogs to, but they in no way compare to the life of a person. A confused dog wandering like that can be a threat to other people, especially small children. This dog turned out not to be a threat, but how was the officer supposed to know without putting himself at risk and getting close. Would you risk yourself for a dog? A person with common sense would not. This officer seemed to have a little common sense. I'm sure he was taught not to approach an animal displaying characteristics of rabbis. Maybe a human life, but not a dog. A rabid animal can turn on you fast. I witnessed that with my mother, and she had to get a series of painful rabbis shots afterwords. The real world is not like you see on Animal Planet where they can dart every animal and then cure it. To the owner, I am sorry for your loss.

Shooting Dog

About Your Comments On Pets Are Are Family And As Of The Officer Shooting Theres Training Class's On Handling Dogs It The Animal Control To Get Them Training And Yes We Was Trained To Use Eqipment The Last Thing In To Use Deadly Force To As A Officer You Shold Treat It The Same As You Handle Humanes There People Pets Also This Should Be A Warning That We Need To Be Aware Of Whats Happening In Are Areas And Be More Repondsible Pet Owners Get Involved
Also Sorry To Hear About This Loss I Hope You Found A Rescue That Needs A Second Chance.

I am not sure what your so

I am not sure what your so angry about here! YES! Dogs lives are the same as humans... We are in America! NOT the asian countries where they eat dog!!! Dogs are a mans best friend, save children's lives, let you know when there is trouble coming, help people walk, talk, dial a telephone, alert 911 in some cases and can even smell cancer in your body in some cases.. Now all of these things that I have just listed is nothing short of a doctor or nurse's profession!!! My dog even saved my grandson's life by pulling him from a swimming pool, by being much faster he made it to him before we could and pulled him out!!! Don't tell me that it was just a dog! You and Michael Vick must share the same intelligence when it comes to animals!! You 2 should NEVER have children because if you can't love a dog you'll NEVER make a even so-so parent!!

To: Dog Owner

I am so profoundly sorry for your loss. I love animals and have a six year old little boy (lab) and I would be devistated would this have happened to him. I have said a special prayer that God be with you, strengthen and bless you. A family member is a hard thing to lose, and this is what Stoley was to you. I appreciate all that you have written. It shows your kindness and sense of personal responsibility. These things are rare nowadays. It takes a special heart, a tender one, to love another being in such a way as this. And Stoley, one who gave unconditional love,... I believe he was blessed to have you. Laurie

Sorry for your loss.....

I'm really sorry to hear of the loss of your long-time family member. While it appears the old feller had some issues going on, it would've been nice for him to have had a more dignified exit. No matter how old and confused they get, it is never easy to lose them. I hope you can overlook some of the insensitive and ignorant comments that people have posted below. Your willingness to forgive the officer is very admirable. I am again very sorry for the loss of your family friend and companion. It would appear to me that the animal control officers need better training in the use of deadly force to control an animal. There are several methods of control available to them that are not deadly. I haven't seen anywhere that this animal actually posed an actual threat to anyone. Being confused, walking in circles and possibly drowning may have had an odd appearance, but it's not as if he was cornering anyone with red eyes, a foaming mouth and knarled teeth while growling at them. sounds like a very bad call, poor training, inaccurate observations and the inappropriate use of deadly force. As for the person that called this animal in as a threat, I hope you're happy to have caused the death of an innocent, elderly and somewhat helpless animal. You have caused great pain to this animals family as well. Hopefully, the next time you feel the itch to be the nosey neighborhood Barney Fife, you will think twice! Nice work!

The officer's own comment

The officer's own comment that he was not going to send the dog off to be checked because it was not a threat to anyone says it all. He went out and killed a pet dog. It's nice to know that instead of trying to assist someone's pet, he just believes in killing them if there is a problem. It is really a contrast to stories you hear about people who actually care about animals and are out trying to rescue them from situations. Guess he didn't want to get his hands dirty or his feet wet.

come on

I am as much of a dog lover as the next person but the own of the dog is at full fault on this. If he was watching his pet he would have known it was wandering and it was possibly drowning. Had this been a special needs child the parent would be locked up for neglect and abuse but since its a dog people are now blaming animal control. That is just not right. The owner should be fined with any applicable leash law, should be made to pay the cost of the bullet and the salary for the time spent doing something that could have easily been avoided.

feeling quilty enough

Don't you think you are being a bit harsh? The family, while they are at fault, are suffering enough with guilt over the loss of their dog. I hope this is a lesson to everyone to not leave pets outside, unleashed and unattended, especially those who are obviously not in any shape to take care of themselves.

Humane way to go

How horrible for those negligent owners of the dog to allow him to live in such misery. Old dogs like that with nothing but pain and suffering ahead should be put down, not put out to drown in a pond. They should be fined for animal abuse. This is exactly the kind of thing that wrecked our healthcare system and has come close to bankrupting our country.


Please Sounds Like You Don't Own A Older Dog If You Did You Would'nt Have Time To Say The Mean Comments ' This Is Not A Talk Show

I am a close friend and

I am a close friend and nieghbor of this wonderful, caring family. This dog was not in pain and was not SUFFERING. Are all elderly humans in pain and suffering when they reach a certain age? This dog got up to greet me everyday, many times a day! I believe if he had been in pain he would not have done this. He was happy and well taken care of and loved by more than just his own family.

What are you talking about????

What are you comparing elderly animals to? Elderly humans? Are you saying that we should put "old" things down so they won't "wreck our healthcare system"?

Ok, so you are saying that

Ok, so you are saying that old PEOPLE should be put down? That's certainly what is sounds like, because keeping an old animal alive has absolutely no effect on our health care system. So, clarify, do you believe all old people should be put down?

old people and dogs

I believe if a human being is suffering then they should have the option to be "put to sleep" in a humane and ethically reasonable that I have put my pets down in the past. I dont believe a human being should struggle along, creating undo hardships on the rest of us, driving up the cost of healthcare. It is grossly unforgivable that any creature human or beast suffer from disease, dementia, strokes, anything that causes an unproductive and burdensome life. Yes they should be put down, we are a cruel society when we put our own emotions ahead of what is best for society. This dog served no purpose other than being a fetish of rememberance to his owners. If the dog could have talked he would have complained. If he was human he would have costs us over $100,000 in healthcare ordered by a greedy physician. If an old person wants to go, we should let him. That's what end of life counseling is all about, giving someone the option of ending their life when it becomes a burden. They drug my father from hospital to hospital, from nursing home to hospice, by the end of those last two years his modest fortune was in the hands of the doctors and not his family.

Good grief!

Is that the way you really thought about your father? That he should have been "put down"? That he created "undo hardships on the rest of us, driving up the cost of healthcare"? That he was a "burden"?

Your last sentence says, " the end of those last two years his modest fortune was in the hands of the doctors and not his family". This makes you sound like a greedy, insensitive child who couldn't wait for his father to kick the bucket before your inheritance was wasted away. It's sad how money seems to bring out the worst in people.

But I'm special

Don't hate me just because I'm special.


Only in your own twisted mind....

Old people arent dogs

What are you talking about? Old dogs provide love, old people are not dogs. Dont kill dogs for any reason!

german shepard

If the guy couldn't tell the difference between a black/brown Shepard and a coyote he needs to be FIRED.

german shepard:reply

I second that opinion!!

Just can't wait to shoot something or someone

What a complete idiot. If you can't tell the difference between a German Shepard and a coyote he should be fired. Why does an animal control officer need a gun in the first place? Plus shooting a gun toward the water of a neighborhood pond endangered all residents of the neighborhood. Brunswick County needs to improve training of all county employees.

Animal Control Officer

This man ought to be fired immediately and the owner should sued him for the grief and pain caused to his family. What an idiot he is!! he is not fit for this job, we don't need to have employee/employees who are trigger happy. My sincere condolences to the family who has lost their family pet.

A Badge makes the difference

If John Q Public would have shot that dog, he wouldn't have the luxury to use oops, mistake. He would have to go through the court system. If John Q. Public makes a mistake on his taxes, he doesn't have the same protections as Sen. Charlie Rangel seems to have either. When Barack Obama and his minions pass Health Care-Insurance Reform-Socialized Medicine, you won't get the same coverage and options as they will be getting at the front of the line. Point being; The people making and enforcing laws for us, are rarely held responsible for their oops, mistakes or, receive a slap on the wrist compared to what John Q. Public would receive. How is that hope and change workin' for ya?