PASADENA, Md. - A simple burglary investigation turned tragic Saturday afternoon when a family pet was shot and killed by an Anne Arundel County police officer.
The police are conducting an internal investigation into the shooting. The officer was placed on paid administrative duties.*
The Reeves family of Pasadena is mourning the loss of their 4-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever Vern. The dog was shot twice on their front lawn by Anne Arundel County police officer Rodney Price, a rookie with one year's worth of experience. The department said Price was attacked by the dog.
Price was canvassing the neighborhood in the 900 block of Lombardee Circle in Pasadena on Feb. 1 in search of a witness to a burglary.
When the officer approached the Reeves' home, he said it attacked him and in his defense, he shot the dog twice.
Mike Reeves, the dog's owner, left for active duty in Iraq Monday.
"It's tough to leave town any time. Now [it's] really tough," he said.
Family members said Vern never acted aggressively.
"He [was] always gentle," a family member said.
Police Chief Kevin Davis said his department will pay for a necropsy on Vern. The department has also pledged to conduct an investigation into the shooting.
Chief Davis visited the Reeves' home Sunday and promised them he will do what he can to find out why this shooting happened.
"My deepest condolences go out to the family of "Vern" during this extremely difficult time," Davis said in a statement. "I personally met with the family at their residence to let them know that our department will be conducting an internal investigation into the incident to ensure that all of the pertinent facts are known, and to advance discussions regarding best practices for law enforcement when encountering animals."
The investigation is ongoing.
*The written version of this article is updated to reflect Ofc. Price's status within the department.