Service dog shot while attacking cop

OKEECHOBEE – A service dog was killed Monday night, Nov. 11, around midnight after he reportedly attacked two police officers who were attempting to revive his owner who had suffered a seizure and was unresponsive.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
Larry Massey and his service dog Butch are pictured here. Butch was killed in a tragic misunderstanding while trying to protect Mr. Massey, who was having a seizure.

According to Okeechobee Police Detective Bill Saum, Officers Luis Rojas and Cody Daigneault responded to a call at approximately midnight in reference to a man lying alongside the road in front of Golden Corral. When they arrived, they found Larry Massey unresponsive. Because they had spoken to him in the past, they knew he had a medical condition which could cause him to have seizures. Officer Rojas began performing a sternum rub in an attempt to revive Mr. Massey, and at that point, Mr. Massey’s dog, Butch, reportedly began growling at Officer Daigneault. According to the report, Butch first tugged on Officer Daigneault’s pants and then grabbed his arm. Each time, the officer pushed him away, but finally, Butch lunged for the officer’s face, the report states, and Officer Daigneault shot him to protect himself and others.

Mr. Massey was taken to Raulerson Hospital by ambulance. Butch was taken to a local veterinarian, but they were unable to save him.

Butch was not wearing a service vest at the time of the incident, the report notes, and the case is still under investigation.

In an interview last week unrelated to this case, Mr. Massey said he had just arrived in town on Nov. 4. Mr. Massey had a service dog because he has a traumatic brain injury resulting from four skull fractures, a broken jaw and a broken eye socket.

As if that weren’t bad enough, they recently discovered he has a brain tumor, he said. Butch was trained to open doors and go find help for him. If Mr. Massey had a seizure in a public place, Butch was trained to protect him from other people by lying on top of him. Mr. Massey said this way no one could get close enough to pick his pockets or hurt him. Butch often did not wear his service vest because it is so hot in Florida, but he did have a tag for his collar, said Mr. Massey.

According to Mr. Massey, Butch was doing what he was trained to do and he should not have been shot for that.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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