Deputy shoots dog after it attacks police horse at parade

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida deputy fatally shot a dog after it attacked a police horse following the Gasparilla parade on Saturday.

The pit bull broke free from a gate it had been tied to and charged at the horses three times, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s authorities. The area was crowded for Tampa’s annual pirate celebration and several officers were patrolling the parade on mounted horses.

A deputy tried to Taser the dog when it first broke away and tried to bite a horse, but couldn’t find a clear line that wouldn’t potentially injure the horse. The dog returned and bit another horse, a 16-year-old named Romeo, on the leg.

When the dog charged at the horse a third time, Deputy Crystal McClelland, who was riding a separate horse, shot the dog once. The dog died at the scene, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

The owner of the dog was not identified. Authorities said he is homeless and was hospitalized involuntarily after the shooting for allegedly making threats to deputies.

Sheriff Chad Chronister noted that it was an especially difficult decision for an officer on the Mounted Unit because they spend their careers working with animals, but he cautioned in a statement “there could have been many more injuries and potential losses had the horse been badly injured, not only to the horse itself, but also to the deputy riding him, the crowd of people walking nearby on Bayshore Blvd and the other horses who could have reacted due to their herd mentality.”