Veteran upset after Augusta officer shoots, kills service dog

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Army veteran Alan Fitzgerald is upset after an Augusta police officer shot and killed his service dog, Midnite.

A police officer and an animal control officer responded to Fitzgerald's home Thursday after a neighbor called 911 to report Midnite attacked her dog, Augusta Police Chief Tyler Brewer said. 

Chief Brewer said the animal control officer was there to serve Fitzgerald a notice to appear in court for a "dog at large" violation.

"We've had previous contact with him with regard to this dog. We have some knowledge, some neighborhood complaints of this dog," Brewer said.

The animal control officer knocked twice, Brewer said. The door was open, but a glass screen door was closed.

Midnite was barking and jumping on the door and the door opened. Brewer says Midnite came at the animal control officer, knocking the officer off the porch. That is when the police officer shot Midnite three times, killing him.

Brewer says witnesses are corroborating these details.

However, some of Fitzgerald's neighbors disagree, saying the animal control officer knocked twice and when no one came to the door, neighbors said the animal control officer opened the screen door and stepped inside the home.

"He comes back out and we seen Midnite following him out, and I seen the officer start kicking Midnite," neighbor Charmin Drake said.

Fitzgerald said he's had Midnite since late 2015, and that Midnite went through training and became a certified ADA service dog through Family Dog Training and Behavioral Center.

The training center confirmed the dog was trained there, passed all necessary tests and did not show any aggression. The trainer said that because Midnite was a German Shepherd, it's not uncommon for them to protect their home.

Fitzgerald told KAKE's Morgan Downing Midnite helped him with PTSD.

According to police, Midnite bit Fitzgerald's 16-year-old nephew in 2016, sending him to the hospital where family members say he received stitches. Police did not know about that incident until after Midnite was killed.

Police said they did know the owner of the mobile home park filed a complaint against Midnite and Fitzgerald in the past.

The officer who shot the dog feels terrible, Brewer said, but did so because the animal control officer was being attacked, adding that it comes down to poor dog ownership.

The Augusta Animal Clinic has agreed to pay for Midnite's cremation.

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