This is a story that would have had a horrible ending had the officers on the scene been less understanding, especially in light of all the stories you see of police shooting dogs at the slightest provocation.

Wednesday night off-duty Orange County, FL sheriff’s deputy, Steve Strickland was driving home from dinner in New Smyrna Beach and saw John Pitera, 66, ill on the side of the road. He called 911 then proceeded to try to help the fallen man.

Pitera who was walking his dog Max, has a heart condition and collapsed near the intersection of Merrimac Street and South Riverside Drive.

Petera warned Strickland that Max was very protective of him and aggressive toward strangers, to be careful since at the time he wasn’t able to control the dog.

Another police officer, Josh Adams, also attempted to help. Strickland was able to grab the dog’s choke collar and take him to the ground, before asking an unidentified bystander to call police when Adams approached.

“I did not see (Officer Adams) approach,” he Strickland said. “The next thing, I was in the air.”

Adams walked up and had not said two words to the deputy, who he had not identified at the time, when Max lunged.

“There were two people walking by,” the officer said. “(The dog) turned toward them, then towards me, and back at the deputy.”

That’s when Adams stepped in to grab the canine, getting bitten in the process.

They managed to subdue Max until another officer arrived with a catch pole.

Pitera was treated and taken to the hospital and listed in stable condition. Adams received six stitches and Max, after it was determined he had all his shots, was returned to Pitera’s wife, Beverly. He will need to be quarantined for ten days as the law requires.

So in this day when dogs are routinely shot or tasered by police, sometimes necessarily, sometimes not, these officers, taking the situation in consideration, even thought Max was, yes, a pitbull, only restrained him. He was not taken to animal control, he was not locked in a cage. The situation was seen as exactly what it was, a well trained and protective dog protecting his fallen owner.

Thank you for being the kind of officers that give law enforcement a good and compassionate name, as it should be!

News Journal Online

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