FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) -- A Fort Valley pet owner learned that if your dog isn't restrained, and it poses a threat police have the right to use deadly force.
When Darrel Aiken got home from work on Wednesday, his neighbor's dogs were in their usual spots, but his 5-month old Rottweiler, Champ, wasn't.
"I feel like there was some other way besides shooting him in the back of his head," said Aiken.
Champ was shot and killed by a Fort Valley Police Officer in his own front yard. Aiken's roomate, Antonio Wright, was inside when it happened.
"I was shocked cause he was sitting there trying to get up, and you could tell his legs weren't responding," says Wright.
Aiken and Wright say Champ was a lover, not a chomper, but Fort Valley's Public Safety Director, Lawrence Spurgeon says that's not the same dog officers described in their report.
It states officers were called to the area to locate a dog that was chasing kids up and down the street. When they found Champ, he wasn't on a leash, which is against the city's code.
"They found a dog that matched the description, and they tried to grab the dog with a catch-pole, and the dog became aggressive, and when they couldn't detain and he started attacking, the used other recourse, and shot him," said Spurgeon.
Wright believes the puppy's life should have been spared.
"Even if he was aggressive there are other measures you can used other than gunning down a 5-month old puppy," said Wright.
Speaking from experience, Spurgeon says his officer responded correctly.
"When officers have to make a decision between getting bit and getting attacked and putting the dog down. The obvious choice is the dog has to go," said Spurgeon.
A loss for Aiken that is much more than his " best friend."
"My dog was raised to be a family member," said Aiken.
Aiken says he wasn't aware of the city's policy to leash his dog even at home, or he would have done so. Any one who has questions about Fort Valley's pet laws, can contact the City of Fort Valley, or the police department at (478) 825-3383.