Tentative settlement reached in case of dog shot by Pender County Sheriff’s Deputies

Bruce Benson talks about his decision to sue the Pender County Sheriff's Office for shooting and killing his dog.

BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — The Pender County Sheriff’s Office have reached a tentative settlement with a man who sued the Office in February after a deputy shot and killed his dog in the summer of 2020.

A few years ago, Burgaw resident Bruce Benson, a retired veteran, was looking for an emotional support dog after going through a divorce. It was during that search that he found Astro.

“I found Astro at a local shelter and went down and met him and played with him and we hit it right off,” Benson said.

On August 15, 2020 Pender County Sheriff’s deputies paid a visit to Benson’s home on Wolfe Run Road to conduct a welfare check after he hadn’t shown up to a church work day event. As he was talking to one of the deputies, Astro got out the front door and ran toward two deputies in the driveway.

“He had not been out the door 10 seconds when I heard a loud bang, obviously a pistol shot,” Benson said.

Nearly 2 years later, the Sheriff’s Office released the following statement on the incident:

“We have learned that a close-knit bond existed between Mr. Bruce Benson and his emotional support canine, Astro.  We are sorry for the circumstances that led to Astro’s death.  We did not intend to cause the loss of Astro.  As a result of the loss of Astro, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office has instituted a training program to help officers to recognize behaviors presented by dogs and how to react to these behaviors. We also agreed with Mr. Benson regarding the next K9 purchased by the Pender County Sheriff’s Office for service will be named Astro.”

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