A dog warden in Lawrence County shoots and kills a dog, who had recently given birth to 9 puppies. The dog warden says he was just doing his job. Many in the community, however, think otherwise.
The phone in Bill Richard’s office has not stopped ringing. His machine is now filled with messages from all over the world. “I hope someone puts a bullet in your (expletive) head.” Richards has even received death threats from nearly every state in the country, and a few from Australia and Norway. Some messages are tamer than others, while others just want Richards fired from his job as the Lawrence County Dog Warden. “This is appalling, you should lose your job,” says one voicemail.
They’re all stemming from an incident last Tuesday. When a pitbull was shot and killed by Richards. “It’s unfortunate I had to shoot that dog,” says Richards. “But at that point is was me or her. Bottom line.”
Jessica Shane says the dog followed her husband home from work one day, so they kept it in the front yard. They decided to keep it on a chain until animal control could pick her up.
“We called her Mamma,” says Jessica.
But before the dog warden arrived, ‘Mamma’ gave birth to 9 puppies. “She was so friendly and so loving, she let me hold the puppies,” says Jessica.
Jessica fell in love with the dogs. Nonetheless, she simply couldn’t keep them. “I was under the impression they were going to the shelter. But that didn’t happen. “The warden came and I was gone to pick up my son,” says Jessica. “I pulled in and the dog was lying on the ground.”
“I told everyone this is what happened: The dog attacked me 3 times,” says Richards. “I have every right to shoot this dog. But, what I’m going to do is tranquilize it and try to gain control of it.”
So Jessica took her kids inside. When she came back out. “He just looked at me and said, ‘don’t come any closer,'” remembers Jessica.
“As soon as I turned around she stared at me, growled and lunged. That’s when I shot her,” says Richards.
The puppies were only a few hours old. So Richards took them to the shelter. But the shelter said the dogs were too young, and couldn’t survive without their mother, so they were euthanized.
Richards maintains he was protecting himself and the community. “My job is to get there and seize it. It’s not something I enjoy doing. I have dogs at home.”
“I don’t think she got a fair chance. Everything she did she was doing in defense of those puppies. Had I been there I know I could have gotten them out without incident,” says Jessica.
LEX 18 spoke with the county judge executive and he says he stands behind his employee and does not plan to fire him. Richards says he’s scared to go back to work after the death threats. As for Jessica, she just hopes something can be learned from this situation.
Jessica says the community has really reached out to her, dropping off dog food for her pets as well as encouraging messages.