WYCKOFF - A family is in mourning after a police officer shot and killed their dog Otto when he mistakenly responded to their home for reports of a burglary.
Wyckoff police received a report of a possible break-in at 621 Lawlins Road on Wednesday.
Police Chief Benjamin Fox tells News 12 New Jersey that a patrolman went to 622 Lawlins Road by mistake.
Fox says no one answered at the front door so the patrolman went around back and spotted an open window. Fox says a large German Shepherd lunged out the window, bit the officer's right foot and latched onto his boot.
The chief says the officer fired his gun four times and two bullets hit the dog. Otto was taken to a veterinarian at Oradell Animal Hospital, but the dog did not survive.
“We're all upset; this is somebody's pet, but unfortunate situations caused [the officer] to be there,” says Fox.
The Vukobratovic family tells News 12 New Jersey that they question if the responding officer did in fact go to the front door. They say that had the officer gone to the front door and rang the doorbell, the dog would have been alerted to the officer's presence and would have barked.
“There was no reason for him to shoot,” says Zana Vukobratovic.
The family found shell casings outside in their lawn, which they believe shows the officer was firing as soon as he was in their yard.
The neighbors across the street are the ones who contacted police about a possible burglary at their home at 621 Lawlins Road.
They tell News 12 New Jersey that they were waiting for the officer when he pulled up. They say one of them was in the window, and the other was actually waiting in the driveway. They said that the officer never made any attempt to come over to their address - the correct address.
The Vukobratovics and friends maintained that Otto was well-trained and did not have an aggressive disposition.
A spokesperson for the National Canine Research Council says that officers can use pepper spray and other methods to deter dogs.
Chief Fox says the department will fully investigate the incident and plans to speak with neighbors in the area who may have seen what happened.