FREEPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Freeport police are investigating the fatal shooting of a French Mastiff dog, which happened Tuesday on the Fourth of July.
Police aren't revealing any details at this time, but NEWS CENTER spoke with the family that owned that dog. They said their dog Max was rambunctious and friendly and loved playing with other animals.
That's what they believe he was trying to do when he wandered onto a neighbor's property.
"We didn't go to the fireworks," said Leroy Hart. "We didn't do anything. We buried him."
It was a holiday gone wrong.
Hart said he heard four, quick pops. It wasn’t fireworks, though – he said he listened to the sound of his French Mastiff getting shot and killed.
"I get it. Max should have never left my side," he said. "I get that. That was my bad. But there's no reason to shoot the dog."
Hart said he was starting up the grill for a holiday barbecue when his 2-year-old dog Max wandered off. He said he didn't think much of it, until about 30 minutes later when a police officer told him Max had been shot. He rushed Max to the emergency vet, but with no success.
"I don't think anyone should see their dog the way I saw him," said Hart's stepdaughter, Gabrielle Durant.
Hart said this is what he was told: that Max had startled a neighbor's horse and was chasing her other animals. Freeport police declined an on-camera interview but did say the situation is under investigation.
They directed us to Maine State Law regarding shooting dogs, which reads in part:
"An owner of domestic animals, livestock or poultry, a member of the owner's family or a person to whom is entrusted the custody of domestic livestock or poultry may kill any dog killing or attacking the domestic animals, livestock or poultry."
Leroy and Gabrielle said they understand the law but still want to see both proof and justice for Max.
"I'm an avid outdoorsman. I hunt," Hart said. "For one, I would never shoot somebody's dog, ever. Unless I had no other option. If it was vicious, attacking my children, fine. Eats one of my chickens? I don't care. I'm not going to shoot somebody's dog for that."