Victorville officers shoot dog but family questions their account

Leticia Juarez Image
Friday, September 1, 2023
Family questions police account of shooting of their dog
Victorville officers say they shot a family's dog to protect their safety but the family questions if the shooting was necessary.

VICTORVILLE, Calif. (KABC) -- A Victorville family is questioning the police department's version of an encounter their 5-year-old pit-box mix dog had with officers two weeks ago that resulted in their pet being struck three times by gunfire.

Deputies say the dog charged them during a call at the home.

"They were trying to kill him but the bullets grazed him and the one that did enter went right out of his mouth," said Josh De Leon.

The incident happened following a verbal altercation between De Leon and his wife. The couple says while they were arguing in front of their home it didn't get physical and both left in separate cars to cool off.

Then came the phone call from his brother-in-law letting him know police were at his home. His wife got there first.

"One of the officers told me, 'Before you say anything, we just want to let you know we shot your dog and if you want him to survive you got to talk to the dog pound because we are not going to pay for any of it,'" said Josh's wife, Santa Ocegueda.

The couple rushed their pet they call O-Dogg to a veterinarian for treatment at a cost of nearly $2,000, a crippling expense for the family of seven.

"I understand that things can get out of hand very quickly with police, they have seconds to react, but it doesn't make it right. We are just looking for an explanation and an apology, and help with the vet bill," said De Leon.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, which contracts to provide policing in Victorville, says deputies went to the De Leon home after a female caller in duress called asking officers to come and then hung up. When deputies arrived they found the door unlocked and decided to enter the home fearing the female caller was in danger.

In a statement to Eyewitness News that reads in part, "Deputies attempted to use less lethal means to stop the aggression. The last thing deputies want to do is cause injury or death to an animal, however their priority is the safety of any persons in the house and themselves."

The De Leon family has set up a GoFundMe page in the hopes of getting help with O-Dogg's treatment.