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No Charges Against Officer In Dog Shooting

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ST. LOUIS (WWJ/AP) - A mid-Michigan police officer will not be charged for fatally shooting a golden retriever earlier this month.

Gratiot County Prosecutor Keith Kushion said in a statement he didn’t “find any legal basis to charge” St. Louis police Officer Matt Vanhall “with a crime.”

Kushion reviewed reports filed by the Michigan State Police, Alma police and Vanhall himself.

Vanhall shot “Scout” in the dog’s backyard on Sept. 9. The officer was investigating an incident in which he said the loose dog ran in front of his cruiser and tried to bite him. In a police report, the officer wrote that the dog was “showing its teeth and growling.” Reports say at least seven shots were fired.

“Simply put, if Officer Vanhall was being attacked by Scout, Officer Vanhall would have been within his rights to kill the attacking dog. If he was not being attacked, he would not have this right. Officer Vanhall claims he was under attack by Scout,” Kushion said in the statement.

Scout, who was part of the Goetzinger family for over eight years, was shot at least twice and died at a veterinarian’s office. The family had requested that criminal charges be authorized against Vanhall.

“While you or I may disagree with the manner in which Officer Vanhall dealt with the situation at hand, it appears that the shooting of Scout was within the legal options available to him… I offer my heartfelt condolences to the Goetzinger family for the loss of their pet, Scout,” said Kushion.

Friends, family and several other animal lovers held protests and a candlelight vigil in the days following Scout’s death to help support the family. Read more, here.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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