www.mtdemocrat.com/articles/2006/05/19/news/page_one/d1705_n2.txt May 17, 2006- Police kill dog in failed arrest attempt By Eric Laughlin, Democrat staff writer The attempted arrest of a Placerville man already serving time in a state prison ended in tragedy when a woman's dog was shot and killed by Placerville police officers Saturday night. While attempting to arrest Gary J. Masse, 36, on a May 11 warrant issued by Amador County, police officers stormed the Green Wing Lane residence of his girlfriend, Dena Perez, 29, at around 7:30 p.m., and shot Perez' 6-year-old rottweiler “Harley” in the back yard. Masse, who has been serving time at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy since last month, had been previously arrested by Placerville police officers on April 4 relating to a parole violation. When two officers and a police dog proceeded to search the back yard of the residence (no one was home at the time), they were confronted by a vicious and aggressive dog, said Police Chief George Nielsen. “The dog was attacking our officers and a K-9 unit,” Nielsen told the Mountain Democrat yesterday. “After failed attempts by officers to pepper spray the dog and to retreat, they were forced to shoot the dog for their own safety.” Neither the police officer nor the police dog was injured, Nielsen said. Neighbor Natalia Masters said her encounters with Harley were nothing but friendly. “He was a very nice dog,” she said. “He would come up to me wagging his tail and wanting to be pet.” “That dog was my whole life,” Perez said. “I can't have children and he was my baby, he went everywhere with me. I don't understand why they even came here in the first place - they didn't do their homework or they would have known Gary wasn't here.” Nielsen said the judge-issued warrant was a message to his department to search for Masse, and that his department lacked the resources to determine whether or not he was already incarcerated. “If he would have been incarcerated in the greater Sacramento area, we could have made the connection a lot easier. That is the generally the area we check,” Nielsen said. When Perez and a friend arrived at her residence Saturday night they were met by several officers who asked the whereabouts of her boyfriend. “We must have told them the same thing over and over for nearly half an hour,” Perez said. “We kept telling them that he wasn't here and hadn't been here, and that he was in prison in Tracy. Then after 20 to 30 minutes, one of them said, oh and by the way, we shot your dog.” Perez said that she then ran to the back yard where the animal was still clinging to life, and barely able to walk. “I had my baby in my arms and I was covered with blood,” she said. “I didn't know what to do and when I asked the officers to help me they just stood there and didn't say anything. Eventually I loaded him into the SUV on my own, while they just stood there watching.” “I feel that the officers were as assistive as they could have been,” Nielsen said in response. “They drove her to the vet, so you can draw your own conclusions from that.” After being hospitalized for about 48 hours, Harley died at a Sacramento area veterinary hospital. “I just feel sick,” Perez said. “I haven't even been able to eat. It just sickens me that they did this to me. It's not like they don't know me - I wait on them every day at the restaurant.” Perez said she is familiar with several of the officers through her employment as a waitress at Mel's on Main Street. “I went up to Christian (officer Christian Byers) and said, Christian why did you do this to me? He couldn't even face me, he had tears in his eyes and wouldn't even look at me,” she said. “All of this just really distorts my view of these guys,” said Sheri Martinez, 28, Placerville, the friend who was with Perez at the time. “I've raised my son to respect law enforcement but when I see such a different side of them, it becomes very confusing. And I wish I had a camera to record all of them standing there laughing and being so rude to the neighbors.” Another issue troubling Perez is the unexplained disappearance of the “Beware of Dog” sign that she and other witnesses said was posted on the gate in the area where the dog was shot. Nielsen said he had no knowledge of any kind of sign warning of the presence of a dog. “By our accounts, officers tried to determine whether or not there was a dog in the back yard,” he said. “They had no knowledge of a dog being there when they cracked open the gate.” An investigation by the Mountain Democrat revealed evidence in the way of white plastic triangles and staples that suggested that there had been a sign on the gate at some point. Nielsen said that no disciplinary action against the officer who fired the shots is planned. He added that neither of the two officers nor the police dog, a Belgian Malinois, was injured in the incident. The case was still under investigation as of yesterday, according to Placerville police Capt. Mike Scott.