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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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Owners Responsibility

It is the responsibility of the owners to have their dog on their own property at all times. Yes accidents happen, dogs get out and sometimes they don't come back. The officer saw a canine displaying symptoms of rabies and made a judgement call to protect the citizens of the community. Should the officer have gotten closer and risked being bitten by a rabid animal? NO. Mistakes happen and sometimes it sucks.


Real shame for the family but it sounds like the dog had no quality of life anyone. At least now it's at peace!


PLEASE take this guy's gun ... forever!


None of you were there so you dont know what happened. And Id like to see some of you after a rabid animal and not have a gun on you. Moral of the story is keep your pets on your own property.

Officer Not at Fault!

It was a judgment call. The dog was drowning and was at a distance. Hard to make out what type of animal exactly it could be from a distance. It was demonstrating characteristics of rabbis. If it was a rabid animal, and the officer took no action, he would be putting residents and other animals at risk. To approach an animal demonstrating characteristics of rabbis is also a risk. The officer had no way of knowing the dogs exact condition, and had to act in the best interest of the majority of citizens who he is supposed to protect. Animals that are rabid are dangerous especially to small children. The owners are at more fault for the dogs death than the officer. If the dog was in this bad of shape they should have kept closer watch on the dog. Probably any animal control officer seeing a dog behave like this, would have put the dog down. The officer did the humane thing, and the animal did not suffer. Those leaving comments saying what a bad job the officer did, you should put yourself in his shoes. He was doing his job and made a judgment call that I myself or any other probably would have made if we had his responsibility. His choices, risk letting a possible rabid dog go lose to infect a person or other animals, risk attempting to catch the animal and putting himself in harms way, letting the dog suffer and possibly drown, or humanly taking the dog out of his misery and ending any risks to others. You pick!

It was demonstrating characteristics of rabbis ??

"It was demonstrating characteristics of rabbis?" I am confused "Concerned_Citizen" .. Was the dog presiding over Shabbat or Rosh Hashanah?

Quote:Guest456 ( "It was

Quote:Guest456 ( "It was demonstrating characteristics of rabbis?" I am confused "Concerned_Citizen" .. Was the dog presiding over Shabbat or Rosh Hashanah?) LOL that's what happens when you let spell check change your words and you don't look closely at what you click. I hope I didn't offend anyone in the Jewish community LOL. I would be proud for my dog to represent characteristics of clergy though. LOL

We-ins are becoming the

We-ins are becoming the rootin/tootin shoot em up center of the south with these officials tote'n them thar guns havin' targit practice on everything that moves!!!


Anyone that shoots a family member should be held just as accontable regardless if it is a person or animal.... It is still a family member. I trust we will see a resignation from this.. The days of the good ol boys are over.. It's time to do what is right folks... Be good people like we ought to be..

Sorry for your pet loss...

...however I can't help but to ask the owners, what was a 15 year lifelong pet that is "hard of hearing,tired and had poor eyesight" doing wondering around the neighborhood unsupervised? Can you imagine how scared it must have been being "disoriented" and falling into a pond?? If it's health was that bad of shape the humane thing to do is to have it put down! Don't let a poor animal wonder off and die in hopes that you won't have to do the task! Not saying that the office is completly right in his actions but he probably did the dog a favor that the owners couldn't bring themselves to do.

I have to agree with this poster

I saw on the news that the dog didn't have any dog tags on, so we have a neurologically impaired, possibly senile old dog wandering around a neighborhood biting at the air and people posting here who want to "take the law into their own hands" against a a guy doing his job? The news article said the dog officer was "very sorry" for what happened. Well? the owners were severely negligent it was an accident; an open and shut case. I've got a neighbor who thinks I'm be the biggest as*h*le in the world because I complain about his *constantly* barking dog. As far as he's concerned, "dogs will be dogs" and other people have to just "shut up and put up". There is truly something wrong with the moral compass of most dog owners.

Negligent, No Way

After reading some of these it's past time to set the record straight! The call that went into the County "said" there was a Rabid Coyote; therefore the County came immeditaly and that was what they were expecting to find. The person (and X cop) who called "bragged" to another neighbor "thats the only way to get those people to come out here on a Holiday!". The neighbor who called knew the dog belonged to a new family with 5 little children. He knew the dog would be out from time to time without a leash. What he nor the County emplyee did not know was the dog had a stroke several months prior. The dog was in the family drive way 40 minutes before the owner made the call to the County for any information about a missing dog. How do we know that, we saw the dog in the families drive way. The person who made that call should have either told the truth or kept his "own" neurological impairments to him self that morning! He knew it was not a Coyote, therefore he knew it also was not rabid! It was just a cheap way (or so he may think it was going to be) to rid the neighbohood of what "he" called negligent pet owners. Oh and as for the part about falling into the pond we are not sure if it fell in before or after the shot was fired, do you know the truth either? This is a just awful for everyone involved!

Absolute Disgust

After reading this post I am almost at a complete loss for words. What deplorable actions taken by this "neighbor". In a perfect world the animal control officer would have missed with his shot and hit this despicable excuse of a neighbor instead. If it were my dog, and my five young children wanted to know why their beloved pet who had been a part of their family since the day that they were born was shot and killed, I would march them right over to that neighbor’s house, along with the other neighbor who heard him “bragging”, and have him explain to them why their dog was dead. That picture would hopefully stick in this disgusting individual’s head for and haunt him for a long time to come.

I agree with your opinion of

I agree with your opinion of the 'neighbor' but your hope for this situation to 'haunt' him will never happen. He intended to cause harm. When the family DID go to his home and ask why he did what he did he answered that 'he did the neighborhood a favor'! This is not the first time he has done things to cause grief in this community to other individuals.


If he did indeed intend to cause the ultimate outcome that played out on Labor Day, and the neighbor that heard him bragging was willing to testify, you would have a pretty strong civil (if not criminal) case on your hands. If it were my dog and my family I would pursue those actions if I had the fortitude not to take the law into my own hands first.


What a bad judgement call !!! Sounds like the Animal Control should either get a new job or get an eye exam.

Pretty Sad

Pretty sad you have a professional working as a animal control officer and he can't tell the difference between a coyote and a dog.