Couple says off duty deputy killed their German Shepherd

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:08 PM EST
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MERCER COUNTY, W.Va. (WVVA) - Sophia and Jay Kelly say their dog Zero was killed by their neighbor after the dog went outside to use the bathroom. They say he was house-trained, so they routinely let him out to go, but on a recent occasion, it was anything but routine when Zero left their porch.

They say their German Shepherd went to their neighbor Matthew Horn’s driveway and Horn, a Mercer County Sheriff’s Deputy, shot and killed Zero. The Kelly’s say Horn took lethal measures without cause.

“The neighbor has fed our dogs and given him treats and stuff so I’m assuming that he probably went over there to get those. Before he even yelled, screamed at him or anything he took out his flashlight and his pistol and shot him with no warning,” said Sophia Kelly.

Certain West Virginia codes do allow for a dog to be killed. A dog can be killed if it is chasing, worrying, killing or wounding livestock animals like sheep or cattle. This also applies to children.

West Virginia code does protect animals registered and kept as a companion from being intentionally, knowingly or recklessly killed. This law does not apply to a dog that is killed while attacking a person, companion animal or livestock. Zero’s owners say they don’t believe he did anything to deserve being shot.

“It would be one thing if you know he was actually like charging him or after his dogs. You know I didn’t get to see it so I don’t actually know. He’s got cameras up at his house obviously. Hopefully they work. I’d like to at least see the footage and see what was really going on,” said Jay Kelly.

We reached out to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department where Horn works to see if he would comment on the situation. We first asked to speak with Deputy Horn but were told he was not in the building at the moment and left contact information for a return call.

Chief Deputy Alan Christian then called to inform us that Horn nor the department will be commenting on the situation since it is being investigated by the West Virginia State Police.

“I would really like for the state troopers here in Mercer County to you know maybe reach out to outside counties to have a further investigation done. I think it would be fair to us,” said Jay Kelly.

The Kelly’s say they want an outside investigation done because they feel the bias among local law enforcement agencies may slant the probe into their dog’s death and the case may be swept under the rug.

UPDATE: On Thursday the West Virginia State Police and the lead prosecutor for Mercer County say Deputy Horn legally shot the dog. They say they reached this conclusion because there is video and photographic evidence of the dog barking and growling in an aggressive manner at Horn and his dogs that were in his yard.

Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Cochran says no charges will be filed for Horn of the owners of the dog shot.

“The investigating troopers with the West Virginia State Police came to my office this morning. They brought me the entire investigative file in this matter including video evidence which clearly shows Mr. Horn was completely justified in the action that he took,” said Cochran.

West Virginia State Police says the investigation was neutral and thorough as well.