The 25-year-old son of the homeowners whose dog was killed by a Wyckoff policeman investigating a burglary at the wrong address said Thursday that he has doubts about the police department's version of events leading up to the dog's death.
The police told him there was a report of a burglary at his house, and that "they'd shot my dog."
He walked into the backyard, he said, to find his 5-year-old, 85-pound purebred German shepherd Otto lying against a wall, shot and bleeding.
"The animal control asked me to help put him on a blanket so they could carry him out. He looked at me, and I couldn't do anything. I couldn't believe that they'd just shot my dog," Vukobratovic said. "I had to pick him up ... and carry him, bleeding, to the truck. The last thing he saw was me."
At the animal hospital, they told Vukobratovic that Otto had been shot twice — once in the back, and once in the side. One bullet had gone through his lungs. The vets put a hole in Otto's chest so he could breathe, but a bullet fragment had hit his heart, and he later died, Vukobratovic said.
Vukobratovic said he thought there were several discrepancies between the official story and what's been told to him by his neighbors at 621 Lawlins Ave, who called the burglary in. They placed the officer farther from the dog when he shot him and said that the shooting occurred in a different part of the yard, Vukobratovic said.
Those neighbors were not home when the Record knocked on their door Thursday morning.
The Vukobratovic family has not yet spoken with the Police Department about the incident, but will eventually, he said.
Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox said that the home address had been misunderstood by the responding officer, Patrolman Kyle Ferreira, when it was called over the radio, and when he repeated the wrong address back to the dispatcher, he wasn't corrected.
“A large, growling German Shepherd lunged out the open window, bit the officer on his right foot and latched onto his boot,” Fox said.
The chief said the officer fired his gun four times to get the dog to release his foot, and two of the bullets hit the dog. Ferreira was uninjured in the dog attack, the chief said.
Fox said police learned in a subsequent investigation that the homeowner had routinely left the rear window open as a pet door, to allow the dog to let himself in and out of the house.
Fox also said that there is information on social media stating that eyewitness accounts differ from the police version, but his officers haven't been able to locate those witnesses despite canvassing the neighborhood. Several officers were out on Lawlins going house to house Thursday morning.