A Missouri deputy is accused of shooting and killing a family’s lost dog and dumping his body in a ditch, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.
The 9-year-old Labrador retriever mix, named Parker, wandered off from the family’s rural Stoddard County home during a storm on Aug. 27 and wound up on the porch of a neighbor’s house roughly 1 mile away, the lawsuit filed Oct. 31 by attorney Russell Oliver said.
The neighbor didn’t know who Parker belonged to, so she made a post on Facebook in an attempt to find the dog’s owners, the lawsuit said. She also made a call to the Stoddard County Sheriff’s Office, which sent a deputy to her home, according to the suit.
Deputy Rodger Seal, who has since been fired from the sheriff’s office, showed up, took Parker into his patrol vehicle and drove to the Otter Slough Conservation Area, the lawsuit said.
Once there, the suit says Seal let Parker out of the vehicle and allowed him to run around for a little while. But after a few moments, Seal called out to Parker, and when the dog obediently returned, Seal shot him, the lawsuit said.
Parker fell to the ground, wounded but alive and in pain until Seal fired another shot eight minutes later, according to the lawsuit. With that, Seal dragged Parker’s body to a ditch and left it there, the suit said.
Parker was “executed” despite showing no signs of aggression, the lawsuit said, adding that the sheriff’s office has an “unwritten policy, pattern, and practice of regularly killing dogs and disposing of them in the Otter Slough Conservation Area and other rural locations.”
After learning Parker had been found by deputies, his owner, Bryan Pennington, called the sheriff’s office only to find out that Parker was dead, Pennington said in a Facebook post in August, KTVI reported.
“From the time (Seal) picked Parker up, and I got a hold of them, it was less than 30 minutes. Now, I have to explain to my children that Parker went to doggy heaven,” Pennington wrote, the outlet reported.
In addition to Seal, the lawsuit also blames two others for Parker’s death, Sheriff Carl Hefner and Travis Maddox, who was Seal’s supervisor at the time.
No attorneys were listed for the defendants, and Hefner didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on Nov. 1.
However, Hefner previously addressed the incident in a Sept. 1 news release.
“In the process of conducting our internal investigation into the killing of a domesticated animal … the deputy who responded to this call did not act appropriately during the performance of his duties,” the release said, adding that Seal was fired.
The lawsuit is seeking damages for violations of the Pennington family’s constitutional rights, as well as for fear, depression and “loss of faith in society” inflicted by Parker’s killing.
Stoddard County is roughly 100 miles south of St. Louis.