Chicago - Officer Lisa Cornish, just off duty and still in uniform, was walking her 3-year-old miniature schnauzer, Pepper, early Friday when an unleashed pit bull pounced on her dog, flinging it back and forth "like a rag doll."
Unable to free her dog with her hands, Cornish took out her service weapon and held it two inches from the dog's back. She said she told the people walking the pit bull, "I'm going to have to shoot your dog." They agreed. She fired.
"I didn't second-guess myself," the eight-year Chicago police veteran said at her home Friday afternoon. "It was basically for my safety, the safety of my family pet."
Police said that Cornish was within guidelines when she fired the shot and that she followed all necessary procedures after the incident correctly.
Police spokesman Pat Camden said an officer shooting a dog is "a judgment call."
"Obviously, if she shot the dog at 3 in the afternoon in a playground full of children, it would be a bad decision," he said. "But it was 1 a.m., and she shot the dog at close range."
Shooting out of control animals is a fairly routine action, and there is no specific rule stating when it's acceptable for an officer to shoot a dog.
After the attack a woman took away the pit bull, which was still alive, Camden said.
The whereabouts and condition of the dog are unknown, he said.
Cornish said she filed a police report detailing the incident and why she used her weapon.
The city's Animal Care and Control Department received a call about an attack, but the dogs were gone when their truck arrived, spokeswoman Melanie Sobel said.
As Cornish got ready for work Friday afternoon, Pepper seemed normal, wagging her tail and begging for attention. Pepper had two gashes--one behind her ears and another on her throat--and fresh rabies vaccine and antibiotics shots from the veterinarian's office.
Cornish said the other dog is probably worse off.
"They need to find that dog," she said. "I'm sure that dog is not in great shape."