April 18, 2012 -- A Texas police chief has apologized to a devastated man whose dog Cisco was shot point blank by a police officer who responded to a call at the wrong address.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo apologized to Cisco's owner Michael Paxton during the "Dudley and Bob Morning Show" on KLBJ FM Radio.
"My heart goes out to him. I think if you ask everybody in the department, believe it or not, we're animal lovers, just like everybody else," Acevedo said, according to ABC News' Las Vegas affiliate KVUE.
"I definitely appreciate the apology, Art," Paxton replied. "It does me a lot, considering I haven't been contacted by anybody. To hear that from you, it does mean a lot to me."
The incident has garnered national attention and anger. A Faebook page called "Justice for Cisco" has more than 71,000 supporters that have left messages of support and, often, outrage.
The shooting happened on Saturday afternoon when Paxton, 40, and his Australian cattle dog were relaxing and playing Frisbee in his Austin backyard when he decided to go get something from his truck in the driveway.
He encountered a police officer who immediately drew his weapon and told Paxton to put his hands up, he said.
"He had a Taser. He had pepper spray. I don't understand why, in broad daylight, he pulled a gun on me. I wasn't running. I wasn't hiding," Paxton told ABCNews.com. "I was just saying, 'I live here.' I was panicking. I was afraid for my life."
Paxton said he heard Cisco, who weighed about 50 pounds, barking and coming towards him from the backyard.
"I said, 'Don't shoot him. Don't shoot my dog. He won't bite you.' But he shot him, just like that. It all happened in under 30 seconds," Paxton said. "There was no attack on the officer other than barking and challenging him."
Austin Police Cpl. Anthony Hipolito told ABCNews.com that the officer did respond to the wrong address, but it was the address provided by the 911 call. The call came from the house next to Paxton's.
"The officer was basically in retreat and asked the owner to grab the dog," Hipolito said. "He was unable to and the dog continued to attack and that's when the officer discharged his firearm."
An apology was issued at the scene, according to Hipolito, but Paxton said no one apologized to him.
"Officers have to do everything they can to protect themselves, up to and including the use of deadly force," Hipolito said. "It's something that we don't ever want to do. To shoot and kill an animal is very unfortunate and tragic. The officer is distraught and did not want to do it, but at the same time, he had to protect himself."
As a shocked and horrified Paxton stared down at his dog's lifeless body, he said he was confused when the officer started asking him if he had a girlfriend.
"I was saying, 'You just killed my dog. I can't believe you just killed my dog. What is going on?'" Paxton recalled.
Paxton said the officer said he was responding to a domestic issue report of a man choking a woman. It turned out the call had come from next door.
"I was in shock for probably almost 24 hours. I wasn't crying at that point, but when I picked my dog up out of the driveway, I lost it," Paxton said, choking up. "He's not a viscious dog. He was a good boy. He was a real good boy."