A Pendleton man shot and injured a pit bull dog to ward off an attack Wednesday night.
Ryan Patrick O’Malley, 25, was walking his own dog when the pit bull approached. He didn’t want to shoot, he said, but felt he was forced to.
“I feared for my life, and the life of my puppy,” he told the East Oregonian. “I am a dog lover, and it really sucks to have to do that. It’s not something I ever wanted to do, and it’s not something I ever want to do again.”
O’Malley said he was walking the 12-week-old Shih Tzu he and his girlfriend own at about 7 p.m. Wednesday from his house in the first block of Southeast 12th Street to her home nearby. He said he saw a larger dog in the dark about 50 yards away, so he picked up the puppy and put it in his coat.
In the coat, O’Malley was also openly carrying a Glock 9-mm pistol.
As he walked, he said, the larger dog drew closer until he could make out a medium-sized, well-muscled pit bull. O’Malley stressed he likes all dogs and doesn’t believe in discriminating against any breed.
The pit bull growled and barked, O’Malley said, so he yelled for the animal to “Go home.” It kept coming, bearing its teeth, becoming more aggressive.
“I just kept yelling, ‘Get out of here, go home,’ but it got closer,” he said. “So I pulled my pistol.”
O’Malley shouted at the dog six or seven times, he said. But it kept coming, and started lunging.
“Finally it lunged at me, and ... I mean ... it lunged hard at me,” O’Malley said. “I pulled the trigger.”
He fired once, he said, and the bullet struck the dog near its left flank. The animal yelped in pain and limped toward its home in the 100 block of Southeast 13th Street. The threat was over, so O’Malley said there was no reason to shoot the dog again.
People burst out of a house to see what happened, and O’Malley shouted for them to call police.
“I hadn’t realized it was their dog,” he said.
The owners were upset and argued, O’Malley said, but the confrontation never went beyond words. Pendleton police activity logs show the owners took the dog to the Riverside Veterinary Clinic, 2504 N.E. Riverside Place, Pendleton. The East Oregonian was not able to get a comment from the pit bull’s owner.
Dispatchers received a call about the shooting at 7:14 p.m., according to police logs, and officers soon found O’Malley near the scene. O’Malley said police were professional. They put his gun and a pocket knife into a police car while they questioned him. When they finished, they gave him his gun and knife and let him and the puppy go home.
Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts said his department would send a report to the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office for review, but he doubted criminal charges would come out of the shooting.
“He had the right to defend himself,” Roberts said.
O’Malley’s Glock was legal as well, and he “was possessing it lawfully and carrying it lawfully,” Roberts noted.
The chief said he will review the case and consider if the pit bull meets the city’s criteria of a dangerous dog. There are about 60 pets on the dangerous dog list. Owners of those dogs have to follow certain precautions, such as making sure the animal isn’t at large, which Roberts pointed out is also a violation of city law.
O’Malley said he carries the gun only for protection, and Wednesday night felt sad about what happened. But he also didn't know anything about the pit bull or why it was aggressive. Faced with the same situation, O’Malley said he would shoot again.
“Like I said, I was in fear for my safety and my dog’s safety,” O’Malley said. “And now that I think about it, what if it would have been a little girl or an elderly person, or someone who wouldn’t be able to defend themselves? What would have happened then?”
Contact Phil Wright at email@example.com or 541-966-0833.
This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.