Melrose mayor orders dog-shooting investigation

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The mayor of Melrose has launched an investigation into the whether the town’s chief of police was justified in shooting a wandering dog.

Mayor Lance Pyle said he ordered the investigation after receiving a complaint from a Wisconsin family visiting the area whose dog was shot and killed Sunday by Police Chief Mike Trammell.

Shooting a wounded or suffering animal is permitted in Melrose in the interest of being humane, Pyle said.

“I won’t tolerate abuse to animals when they are healthy and not violent, not suffering. I don’t take stuff like this lightly,” he said.

He and the city attorney will conduct a full investigation into why Trammell took the dog into the county and shot it, he said. If found in the wrong, Trammell could face anything from a reprimand to dismissal, Pyle said.

Steve and Nancee Southworth of Antigo, Wis., are bitter about the incident and said they want Trammell punished for their dog’s death.
“What he (Trammell) did was just uncalled for. That’s just very uncaring, very insensitive. He didn’t even try to contact us,” Nancee Southworth said.

“He was such a good dog — he was very easy going and laid back. He was part of the family. I don’t see how anyone could have done anything to him unless they have no conscience, no heart.”

In his incident report, Trammell said he shot the puppy for humane reasons. He declined to comment on the incident when contacted Wednesday, citing the pending investigation.

In the report, Trammell described the dog as malnourished and possibly suffering from a gunshot wound.

Steve Southworth said his dog, an 8-month old German shepherd, had escaped from a horse trailer in which he was being kept while his family visited friends in Melrose during Oldtimers’ Day.

He said the dog was going through an awkward developmental stage typical of his breed and was told it would fill out in time. The mark on the dog’s shoulder was red nail polish their 2-year-old daughter had painted on the dog earlier, the truck driver said.

Southworth said he and his family spent most of Sunday looking for the dog before learning what happened.

“This man does not belong in office — he does not belong having anything to do with the police department. He held our dog for 20 minutes before he shot him. What was the big hurry?” Steve Southworth said.

Trammell was responding to a complaint from a woman who said her child had been scratched and was pinned to a trampoline by a dog in the back yard, the report said.

Under ordinance, animals found running at large may be held by the city for three days at which time they may be disposed of or transported to the pound in Clovis.

If the animal’s owner is unknown, a notice and description of the animal is to be posted at City Hall during the three-day
impound period, the code states.

Melrose does not have a facility to house animals, Pyle said.