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Owner disputes account of Wyckoff police officer’s fatal shooting of dog in burglary call

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

UPDATE: A Wyckoff police officer investigating a burglary report shot and killed a German Shepherd whom his chief said grabbed hold of the officer’s boot after he went to the wrong address.

Witnesses, however, insisted the officer shot Otto from a few feet away in the chest, then “approache[d] the dog at close range and fire[d] a bullet through his back” after neighbors tried to tell him that Goran and Olga Vukobratovic’s home was the wrong house.

Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox provided this version of yesterday’s events:

“On April 29 at 3:45pm, Wyckoff Police received a call of a possible burglary at 621 Lawlins Road. Ptl. Kyle Ferreira responded and he mistakenly went to 622 Lawlins Road.

“The officer knocked on the front door and received no answer so he began to walk around the home to check the exterior.

“He entered an unlocked fence gate and went to the rear of the house where he observed a window standing open.

“Believing that this was a point of entry of the reported burglary and not knowing at this point that he was at the wrong home, or if any suspects could have still been on scene, the officer drew his service revolver.

“A large growling German Shepherd lunged out of the open window, bit the officer on his right foot and latched onto his boot. He fired his gun at the dog four times to get him to release and two bullets struck the dog.

“Wyckoff Animal control took the dog to an animal hospital for treatment and the dog did not survive.

“The investigation determined that the window to the home is left open as a type of door allowing the dog to let itself in and out of the home.

“Nobody was at home at the time of the incident and the homeowners were subsequently notified.

“The officer did not sustain any injury due to the dog biting and latching on to his leather boot.”

This version of events was provided by Goran Vukobratovic:

“Police officer came and parked on the street.

“Walked 25 yards down the driveway, passed front door and went straight into fenced back yard.

“Neighbors across the street who called the police tried to signal him that he was at the wrong house.

“Otto came out from the house through the ground level window, which is his doggie door.

“Police officer shoot[s] the dog just few yards from the entry gate and far away from window or any actual ‘investigation’ and 20 yards from the window and the house.

“Per our neighbors who watched the whole thing, it all took few seconds since arriving.

“RIP Otto.”

The following is excerpted from a version of the events that was published last night on Facebook, with the approval of Igor and Olga Vukobratovic, by Chris Scala of Mahwah:

“- 4PM: Igor’s neighbor notices a bent window screen, a broken light, and other signs of a potential intruder. He drives himself to the Wyckoff Police to file a report. Dispatch tells him an officer will arrive within the hour.

– 4:20PM: Officer arrives on the scene and parks in front of Igor’s home. Neighbors who made the report wait at their door watching as the patrol car parks on the street.

– Officer exits the vehicle and proceeds down Igor’s driveway, neighbors are confused and try to signal to the police that they are at the wrong house.

– Officer by passes the front door, the garage, the large windows near the entrance, and lets himself into the back yard, hand on his weapon.

– Otto, being protective of his home, hears the officer and enters the backyard through his doggie door and begins barking.

– Otto approaches the officer and stands his ground a few feet away. Officer draws and fires a shot into his chest. He then approaches the dog at close range and fires a bullet through his back. The neighbors witness everything, while frantically screaming at the officer to get him to stop.

– Officer then calls Animal Control for a muzzle and restraint due to him being “aggressive.” Igor arrives on the scene, by coincidence, finding multiple patrol cars outside his home….

– Otto lies bleeding in the yard while Animal Control muzzles him and restrains him, taking him to the Oradell Animal Hospital where he eventually succumbs to his injuries and dies.”

Scala said Otto “was not even remotely posing a threat or attacking him in any way” and that he officer fired his gun “in broad daylight at a moving target in a residential neighborhood filled with children, families, and pets. Otto was a fantastic, smart, well-behaved dog that never showed an ounce of aggression to anyone.”

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