Family’s dog Tasered 3 times Deputy served warrant at wrong house

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A mistaken address in the Town of Erin last week ended up with a dog being Tasered three times by a Chemung County sheriff’s deputy who believed he was going to be attacked.

Paige, a 6-year-old spayed white mixed terrier, disappeared after the incident that occurred shortly after noon Sept. 28, said Sue Nowlan, who owns the dog with her husband, Barry. Paige returned on her own about 10 p.m. Sept. 29, Sue Nowlan said earlier this week. The dog was traumatized and is now very skittish.

“She won’t go out the doggie door after dark. She won’t even go outdoors after dark unless my husband or I coax her out,” she said. “In fact, the vet gave us a special collar that emits something to help calm her, and also a canine-calming anxiety control medication to try on her.”

The day after it was first given, the anxiety medication seemed to be helping, she said.

Paige also was being treated for deep burns where the Taser probes had penetrated, she said, noting the sheriff’s office is paying for the veterinarian.

As long as the leads are still connected after the initial shot with the Taser, each press of the trigger gives another jolt for up to three seconds, Nowlan said. Paige was hit with 50,000 volts three times, she said.
How it happened

When the Nowlans were not home, a deputy went there looking for an individual he had a warrant for, but he went to the wrong address. He was trying to find someone on Jones Road. However, the Nowlans’ driveway is a town road called Jones Drive that leads only to their home.

“It was an unfortunate incident,” Sheriff Christopher Moss said. “The dog came through a dog door up on a deck, and the officer said the animal came after him in an aggressive nature and he utilized his Taser.”

Paige went out the doggie door and started barking at the deputy, Sue Nowlan said.

“His claim is that she had him pinned and he felt threatened, and so he Tasered her and then Tasered her again on the deck and then as he was going toward his patrol car, he Tasered her a third time,” she said, citing a copy of the unofficial sheriff’s office report. “I don’t understand why she was Tasered three times.”

Use of the Taser is at the deputy’s discretion, Moss said.

“If he feels that he’s going to be attacked by the canine, then he needs to use whatever means he can,” he said. “At one standpoint, you can look at it and say, ‘Thank goodness this officer was equipped with a Taser and didn’t have to use his firearm to dispatch the animal.”

Nowlan said there has never been an issue with Paige in the six years that they have had her, even with United Parcel Service, Federal Express and U.S. Postal Service deliveries and daily visits by a natural gas well tender.

“She’s not a vicious dog. She’s not an aggressive dog or anything else,” she said, adding that she takes offense at the deputy referring to Paige, who weighs 54 pounds, as a large, vicious pit bull.

“That breed of dog that they want to refer to has a very bad reputation. There are drug people and such out there that raise dogs for the wrong purpose,” Nowlan said.

Suspects sometimes use dogs as a diversion before firing on law enforcement, Moss said.

“There have been times when firearms have been discharged when an officer’s been attacked by an animal,” he said.

Nowlan said if anybody fears for their life, she can understand why a dog would be Tasered, but she maintains that Paige is a family dog.

“She rides on our tractor with us in our buggy. She rides in our boat. She goes swimming in our pool,” she said. “I have a 6-month-old grandson. If I had a vicious dog, I certainly wouldn’t be allowing her around my grandson. My daughter certainly wouldn’t allow the dog around him if she were vicious.”
Investigation

Moss said the use of the Taser on the canine isn’t being questioned by his administration, but there is an internal investigation of the circumstances that followed the Tasering.

“There are some things that happened that I’m not pleased with on our officer’s behalf,” Moss said. “This should have been expedited a little better. Some further follow-up should have been conducted. So we have an internal investigation going, so I can’t comment at this time.”

According to the sheriff’s office report, the incident occurred at 12:10 p.m. Sept. 28, but the Nowlans did not find out about it until 6 p.m., Sue Nowlan said. A call to the sheriff’s office was returned at 7:45 p.m., she said.

“For 36 hours straight, that’s what we did. We looked for her. She’s not a dog that stays out. She’s not a dog that wanders,” she said. “My husband and I want assurance that this isn’t going to happen again. We lost valuable hours that we could’ve been out there trying to look for her, had we been notified.”

Nowlan said she met Monday with Moss, Undersheriff William Schrom and Capt. Thomas Argetsinger.

“The three people I spoke with down there do seem concerned,” she said. “They do tell me that there is an internal investigation going on within.”
Road name change?

She also planned to meet with code enforcement to file an application for a change of the road’s name.

When she talked with town officials earlier, they assured her that was not necessary. But if something terrible happens because of confusion over the road names and it is disclosed as an ongoing problem, there is an opportunity for someone to file a lawsuit, she said.

“We’ve had at least five incidences where they’ve reported here. At one point, our house was completely surrounded by state troopers. They were getting ready to do a drug bust, but they were supposed to be on Jones Road, and they had us surrounded,” she said.

“We have to do something at this point to prevent this from happening because we don’t plan on moving.”

Meanwhile, they have put up signs that are white with red reflective letters that read “For dog’s safety, toot horn!! Do not exit vehicle.”

“I don’t feel that I need to protect people from my dog,” Nowlan said. “But I do feel that I need to protect my dog from people.”

Derek Tomsa

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