An Indianapolis man will not be charged after fatally shooting a child’s service dog last month.
The dog, a 10-year-old black Labrador Retriever named Clyde, was playing with his owner on May 25 when the fatal incident took place. Heather Mills told local outlet WXIN that her family got Clyde as a companion dog for their 12-year-old son Mason, who was diagnosed with autism.
“He goes with him everywhere,” Mills told WXIN of Clyde’s relationship with Mason. “Whether he’s riding his bike, playing with his hoverboard, or playing with his friends, the dog is always there.”
“Dog even gets on the trampoline at 10 years old,” she added.
Clyde and Mason were playing outside the family home on the day of the shooting. The family’s security camera caught a man walking down the sidewalk toward the yard where Clyde was staying.
A witness said Clyde, who was not on a leash, approached the unidentified man and barked at him. The man grabbed his belt and shot the dog once in the head.
The man later told an animal welfare officer who responded to the shooting that he did so because he “felt threatened.” Police officers concluded that the shooter’s actions were lawful as the dog was not fenced or on a leash. State law allows the use of deadly force to “prevent serious bodily harm.”
The Mills family set up a GoFundMe to raise money to get Mason a new service dog.
“Mason has had a service dog since he was three years old,” reads a description provided by GoFundMe. “Mason was nonverbal when Clyde got home, and within six months he was talking.”