'Sweetheart' dog recovering from gunshot after cop says she charged at him

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Stormy is recovering from wounds and needs thousands of dollars worth of treatment.

It was news Sonya Davis could hardly comprehend: Stormy, her cheerful pitbull mix, had been shot Friday, allegedly by a police officer who reported that the nearly 15-month-old pup charged at him not far from their Detroit home.

“I was devastated,” she said. “She’s not a vicious dog at all. … She’s a sweetheart.”

Davis and her family are seeking answers while praying for their pet, who faces reconstructive surgery to repair serious wounds.

“It’s going to be an extensive recovery,” said Kristina Rinaldi, executive director at Detroit Dog Rescue, which is working to raise money for the effort.

There are conflicting stories about what led to Stormy’s injuries.

Officers were called to the east side neighborhood Friday afternoon on a report of a vicious animal there, said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department.

Relatives say Stormy had fled Davis’ home as her 9-year-old nephew, Elijah, was preparing to head out with another pet, Bandit, for a walk. 

Stormy was wounded Friday afternoon on the city's east side.

Davis’ son, De’Andre, who was returning from tending to his car, went to canvass the area while Elijah searched elsewhere, he said.

The 9-year-old told his mother and Detroit Dog Rescue that he had flagged down a police car for help, as he had recently done when Bandit ran off.

De’Andre Davis, who was still returning from searching on another street, said he recalled spotting the police car, seeing an officer point a weapon, then hearing gunshots followed by Stormy yelping. “I ran down to see what was happening, because I heard my dog. … As soon as she got hit, she ran off.”

Davis’ cousin said Stormy had run up to join him. According to Kirkwood, the officers who responded to a 911 call arrived to find two large, unchained dogs. As soon as he stepped out, “one of the dogs came running toward officer, charging at the officer,” who fired at it, Kirkwood said.

It was unclear if Detroit Animal Control officers were called to help or treat the dog.

The family reached out to a local TV station, which connected them with Rinaldi, who collected Stormy from the porch and transported her to Oakland Veterinary Referral Services in Bloomfield Hills. 

“She has a wound to her chest, but even more concerning is the wound to her jaw, which destroyed her lower jaw bone, as you can see in the x-ray,” Rinaldi wrote on the DDR Facebook page.

Veterinarians estimate recovery could take six to eight weeks, and her care could reach $8,000, she said.

DDR is seeking donations for her aid. The Peppler Agency, an insurance firm in Harper Woods, plans to match the first $3,000 raised, Rinaldi said.

Meanwhile, Detroit police are investigating the shooting, Kirkwood said.

“On the surface, it doesn’t appear that the officer did anything wrong,” Kirkwood said, citing the officer alleging the dog did not appear to be restrained and charged at him.

Stormy’s owners disagree. “She wasn’t vicious,” Sonya Davis. “She wasn’t attacking anybody.”