Animal lover Leigh Spencer said she was afraid the two loose dogs would get struck by a car, so she called police in the hopes they would save the dogs.
But the responding Delaware cops ended up running the two dogs over with their patrol cars.
A Newark police officer shot and killed one dog, a pit bull, as it tried to scurry away after being run over by the patrol car Friday afternoon.
Witnesses say the female officer turned around and gave them a thumbs up sign after shooting the dog.
The other dog, a German Shepherd, is still on the loose and considered dangerous, even though it is wounded from being run over.
At one point, Spencer said she and a friend came close to leashing one of the dogs, but Newark police threatened them with arrest if they did not back away.
Newark police say the dogs appeared to have been abandoned and could not risk letting the public get close to them.
They also said the dogs were "aggressive" by charging towards them.
But that appears to be debatable.
Leigh Spencer, a University of Delaware student who previously worked at the SPCA, was driving through the area and pulled over when she saw the loose dogs. She said one of the dogs approached her and was not acting aggressively.
Spencer said an officer told her to leave and threatened her with arrest. She believes the officers were provoking the dogs and, with better training, could have restrained them with catch-poles.
“If anything, [the dogs] were acting out of fear,” she said. “I don’t think it needed to get to that point.”
Spencer called friend and SPCA colleague Ashton Cleveland, who came to the scene as well.
“The dogs were simply hanging out under a tree in a grassy area. However, as the police presence grew, they formed a line behind the dogs and continued to yell at them and eventually chase them around the building,” Cleveland said. “It quickly escalated to the cops and [animal control officers] chasing these scared dogs down the street and cornering the pit bull and shooting it multiple times.”
Ashton Cleveland, an employee at the Delaware SPCA, a pet adoption clinic, said her friend texted her about two strays, and the pair headed out with leashes to bring them to the pet shelter.
Cleveland said the dogs were not aggressive. She said her friend was able to pet one and get close to leashing one before an officer ran up and told them to stop.
"He told us we needed to stop, and they threatened arrest multiple times if we did anything," Cleveland said.
The two of them went in their car to watch from a distance. She said officers were at times yelling at the dogs and chasing them, and when more units arrived, they circled the dogs.
"The dogs started barking loudly, but they were just afraid for their lives," she said.
The Newark Police Department employs an animal control officer, but she was not on duty at the time.
However, they say police attempted to use her equipment to catch the dogs before resorting to just running them over.
It is not clear at this time if police recorded the incident on their dash or body cams.