09/25/08 — Dog's owner to speak at town board meeting

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Dog's owner to speak at town board meeting

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 25, 2008 1:38 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Colby Mangum knows her dog, Durham, should have been in his pen Sept. 18.

But that does not make him "vicious," she said. It does not mean he should be dead.

Colby Mangum

News-Argus/Bobby Williams

Colby Mangum talks to her dog, Bella. The Mount Olive College graduate recently lost her other dog, Durham, when he was shot by Mount Olive police.

Mount Olive police officials are standing by the officer who pulled the trigger.

But they admit mistakes were made -- that they were not properly equipped or trained to deal with dogs, that Durham should not have been left on the side of a road in a plastic bag.

Some neighbors said the 2-year-old Labrador retriever and his Rottweiler playmate, Bella, had been "terrorizing" the neighborhood for more than a year.

Each day since the shooting, their stories included more detail -- first that children were chased inside by the dogs, then that Durham pinned a 3-year-old to the ground until the child's father "beat him off with a stick."

But for every horror story is one that paints the dog as a "shy," "sweet," "loving" animal, one "who wouldn't hurt a flea."

Ms. Mangum knows both sides to this story exist.

But a Tuesday conversation with police Chief Ralph Schroeder and Mayor Ray McDonald "proved" Durham should still be alive, she said.

They were talking about "what to do now," "where to go from here," Ms. Mangum said.

And in between the apologies and the "solutions," she heard the facts of what occurred the night of Sept. 18, as reported by the Mount Olive Police Department.


Dustin Sasser was dispatched to 706 Steele St. around 7 p.m.

When he got to the home of Pam King, the woman who called in the complaint, she told him that Durham chased her while she was cleaning her yard.

Diamonds in the Ruff, 1762 Antioch Road, Pikeville, N.C. 27863 or Wayne County Humane Society, P.O. Box 821,Goldsboro, N.C. 27530

"Ms. King stated that while in the back yard, a brown in color dog came from a house on Main Street and started barking at her while it was running toward her," Sasser wrote in his report. "I walked through her house to her back porch, where she pointed the dog out to me. The dog was standing at the edge of her yard barking at us."

The officer said he then tried to walk down Ms. King's back steps to get back to his patrol car when the Labrador "charged at me barking."

"I then took my gun out of the holster and walked back up the steps, and the dog turned around and went back into the other yard on Main Street," he said.

Sasser went back through Ms. King's house and got in his car.

He drove around the block to Main Street and knocked on Ms. Mangum's door.

Finding no one home, he drove back to Ms. King's house and called for backup.

Steve Parks arrived about 7:10.

Sasser told him the dog had charged him.

"I got my shotgun out of the trunk of the car and made sure it had two buckshot in it, in case the dog charged at us again," Sasser reported.

The two officers, now armed, made their way around Ms. King's back yard, but could not see Durham.

They heard barking from behind a thicket when he emerged.

"While walking, the dog ran from behind a bush approximately 20 yards away, barking and running straight at me and Officer Parks," Sasser said. "Officer Parks told me to shoot the dog when it got approximately 10 feet from us. I shot the dog two times. Officer Parks and myself put the dog in a black trash bag on the side of the road so the town could pick it up in the morning."

Wayne County Animal Control was never called to the scene.

Schroeder said his men "did not know" they could call the service after hours.


Hearing the facts did not make Ms. Mangum feel any better about the fact her dog is dead.

If anything, the investigation concludes that what Schroeder and McDonald said to her is the truth -- that the MOPD lacks the training and equipment necessary to deal with dogs properly, she said.

But through the "anger" and "pain," she is determined to see that something positive comes out of the incident.

Schroeder and McDonald vowed to review and revise town policy -- to get proper equipment and training for the town's police force, to involve Animal Control in future incidents, Ms. Mangum said.

And they have asked the 24-year-old to speak at the first Town Board meeting in October, to join a committee that will be formed in the spirit of those goals.

Sasser has been placed on administrative leave.

Schroeder would not comment further on his status with the department.

Ms. Mangum said whatever happens, she knows Durham was not acting "vicious" -- and she has seen no indication of that in the police report filled out the night of the incident.

There is no mention of the dog growling or showing his teeth.

And she "knows" he did not deserve to die that night.

"He didn't have a mean bone in his body," Ms. Mangum said. "So yes, I feel guilty about the fact that he wasn't in his pen. But that doesn't mean he should be dead. That doesn't make it right."

Nothing will, she said.

Even though steps are now being taken to ensure something like this never happens again.