UPDATE: Tasered dog died of suffocation

UPDATE: Tasered dog died of suffocation


Necropsy results showed that it wasn’t the effects of an officer’s Taser that killed a dog in a northwest Corvallis neighborhood on Monday, police said. Rather, the animal suffocated after it was muzzled for transport to the Heartland Humane Society — and couldn’t breath past a swelling in its throat.

Capt. John Sassaman, a spokesman for the Corvallis Police Department, said Friday that a previous injury had caused the throat-swelling. Once an animal is inside the transport vehicle, it cannot be seen, and the dog died during the 10-minute drive from its owners’ residence in the Highland Drive area to the shelter in south Corvallis.

The incident began Monday when two Corvallis police officers responded to a report of two dogs at large near Linus Pauling Middle School. A caller reported that they were attempting to bite people. After the larger dog, named Deuce, closed his mouth around the left forearm of motorcycle officer Steve Teeter, fellow officer Michael Withington drew his weapon. Teeter used his Taser to subdue the dog instead.

Deuce ran off after being Tased, and he and a four-month-old puppy ran back to the house of their owners, Keith and Mable Akina. Police followed the dogs and cited the Akinas for unprovoked dog attack.

As is procedure, Deuce was to be taken to the shelter in the back of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office animal control truck for a 10-day quarantine.

“When the muzzle was put on the dog, it closed the airway. The dog suffocated,” Sassaman said. “When animals have an illness or injury they can be aggressive, even if they are a great dog otherwise ... I would categorize this under one of those really unfortunate situations.”

The Akinas said Friday that they still find some things about their dog’s death puzzling:

“When Deuce was put into the the animal control truck, my wife observed injuries to his ears and his muzzle area that he did not have previously,” Keith Akina said.

Police initially identified Deuce as a pit bull mix in their reports and estimated his weigh at between 150 and 180 pounds. According to Lt. Cord Wood, public information officer for the Corvallis Police Department, the Akinas said Deuce actually was a Neapolitan mastiff mix. The Akinas estimate that Deuce weighed no more than 105 pounds.

Wood said Corvallis officers have used Tasers to subdue other aggressive dogs in the past.

“It usually has the desired effect,” he said.

Wood said Teeter is doing fine after Deuce closed his mouth around Teeter’s arm. The dog’s teeth did not actually break the skin. Teeter was wearing the thick protective gear used by motorcycle officers.

Wood called the dog’s sudden death during transport “very unfortunate.”

Dog owner Keith Akina gave a statement about the the mastiff mix’s demeanor on Friday:

“He was more than just a dog; he was a member of our family. Mastiffs are very lovable, obedient dogs and Deuce was no different. He was our big ‘teddy bear.’ In my humble opinion, Deuce was one of the more beloved dogs in Corvallis and the surrounding area. There were many instances — such as the Saturday Farmers’ Market and countless other events ... where Deuce displayed nothing but appropriate behavior. During interaction with the Corvallis community, he received numerous compliments from his demeanor to his stunning looks. A few conversations with our utility meter readers and the employees at DogzRule (a dog wash company on Ninth Street) stand out with respects to Deuce being an exemplary dog for his breed and size.”

Keith Akina reiterated that no one was seriously injured during the incident on Monday.

“Not once since I’ve had him as a 8-week-old puppy did he show any type of aggressive behavior. My three children grew up with Deuce, and he shared a extra special bond with my 6-year-old autistic son, Keo. They are extremely saddened by his passing.”


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