Haywood County deputy says dog charged him, forcing him to shoot the animal

Photo credit: WLOS Staff

A Haywood County deputy says a Maggie Valley dog charged him, biting his boot before he shot the dog.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2019, at approximately 3 p.m. a Haywood County deputy was dispatched to a residence on Soco Road in Maggie Valley to take a larceny report.

Deputy Brandon Pless called the home, spoke to a woman and told her he was on his way to the home to take a larceny report and would be there shortly.

A press release says Deputy Pless parked his vehicle, got out and approached the house. He walked up to the porch and noticed the front door was open. As he knocked on the door, a dog immediately charged him from inside the home through the open door.

Deputy Pless began to step back to keep the dog from a full-frontal attack. Authorities say, as Deputy Pless stepped back with his left foot, the dog lunged for his right foot. As he was moving his right foot to keep the dog biting it, the dog bit the deputy’s boot but he was able to pull his foot from the dog. As the dog advanced toward the deputy again, he drew his issued weapon and shot the dog, stopping the imminent threat of injury.

The dog ran from the porch but was taken to a local animal hospital before succumbing to its injuries.

The dog's owner, Dale Picka, believes the lethal force was unnecessary and has an issue with a few details of the deputies story.

Picka says he never heard the deputy knock but he did hear his dog, Piper, bark only a few times before hearing two gunshots.

"I was in my bedroom, I heard her barking, so I assumed somebody was here and the next thing I heard was two gunshots," Picka said.

Picka says he went outside to find out what happened when the deputy told him the dog tried to bite his boot.

"He pointed down to his boot. Well, I looked at his boot and there wasn’t any marks on it or his pants weren’t wet or torn or anything," Picka told News 13, also saying it was completely out of his dog's character to bite anyone.

Picka believes the former K-9 officer, Deputy Pless, could have avoided using his firearm.

"I don’t think there was a need for lethal force, it could have been avoided. I think he could’ve handled the situation differently."

The Haywood County Sheriff's office has closed the case. A spokesperson told News 13 it is a terrible situation.

"The deputy’s actions did appear to be reasonable considering the circumstances of the sudden appearance and immediate aggression of the dog," Public Information Officer Lindsay Wegner said. "We respect the value of all life. Personally and professionally, our office considers dogs family so this is a very terrible situation that happened."

Picka says losing Piper is like losing a member of the family and he is still grieving. He says he will not seek financial compensation but will seek legal advice to consider his options.