Family raises pit bull awareness after dog killed by officer

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HAYSVILLE, Kan -- A small group of people gathered outside of the Haysville Police station Tuesday.

They held signs with pictures of a pit bull, reading "R.I.P. Peetie" or "Sweetie Peetie."

Yet, in a matter of minutes, the demonstration was stopped by Sedgwick County sheriff's deputies and Haysville Police officers -- a frustrating blow to the effort, said animal activist Tosha Cooper.

"We are here for Peetie, Justice for Peetie," Cooper said. "If the police keep moving us and tell us to not be here, then we'll try another spot."

Cooper was one of many supporters for Peetie, a pit bull killed by a Haysville police officer.

Police Chief Jeff Whitfield said that on Jan. 19, two pill bulls appeared to have escaped their yard around 9 p.m. They were seen wandering West 6th Street. A resident called police, and said that he was chased by the dogs. Officers found the dogs, and one said he was attacked by Peetie.

"Because he thought he was in imminent danger and the dog was within several feet, lunging and acting aggressively, so he used his firearm to stop the threat," Whitfield said.

Whitfield said they did not want the animal to die, but they had to consider the safety of the officers and public. He also said that other options, like using a tranquilizer, would not have worked in this situation. The dog was acting quickly, and the officers weren't prepared to use a tranquilizer. He also added that if they had used the device, it would not have been effective for taking down the dog fast.

Peetie's owner, Patrick Ivey, said his dog was a rescue and a loveable pet. Peetie would often run to different rooms at night, cuddling up with people before bedtime, Ivey said.

The transition has been rough for the family, including his wife and four children.

"It's very overwhelming. All the outpouring and the support we've seen from everybody has made it a lot easier," he said.

In addition to Tuesday's protest, Ivey said people gathered outside the police station on Saturday -- then with no trouble -- to show their support for the dog they say was wrongfully killed.

"It's been tough," Ivey said.

His oldest son, Trenton, wanted to take their message to the next level. So, he went to Facebook and created a group "Peetie Justice." In about a week, the group went from 20-something members to more than 1,300. Ivey said that through awareness, he hopes to mitigate the pit bull stereotype.

"Right now my goal is raise awareness, to get answers and if there was wrongdoing by this police officer, to have something done," Ivey said. "When you have animals around people that are loved, they're not going to turn mean just for the hell of it. It's the ones that are mistreated that do it."

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