UPDATE: Monday afternoon, Vernon Township police released body camera footage from the Saturday incident, leading up to the moment when an officer shot and killed a pet dog. 

VERNON TOWNSHIP — A labrador retriever was shot and killed by a police officer Saturday, sparking concern among local animal rescue groups as township police said an investigation is underway.

The three-year-old dog, named Hiro, was an Eleventh Hour Rescue alumni, according to that organization.

The founder of Buddha Dog Rescue & Recovery, Nicole Asher, said she was in the Scenic Lakes neighborhood, a private lake community, to help with a case of a lost dog when she saw other police responding to the scene.

According to Vernon police, they received a call on Saturday about an aggressive dog along Tall Oaks Drive. The person calling in the complaint said that a dog was running loose in the neighborhood and had come close to him, while growling, police said.

The responding officer walked down the street and spoke with another resident, who said the dog belonged to a neighbor. While the officer was on the road, police said, the dog ran up to him and began to aggressively charge toward him, without listening to commands to stop, police said. The officer then drew his gun and shot the dog, killing it, police said.

The incident remains under investigation by Vernon Township Police.

Buddha Dog Rescue & Recovery said requests have been submitted for the officer's body camera footage, and animal rescue volunteers already had spoken with a few witnesses.

One person the group spoke with said Hiro was in his own yard when the officer arrived and followed the officer out into the street, where he was shot and killed.

"The death of a pet is always sad no matter what the circumstances and our thoughts and prayers for comfort are with all parties involved. More information will follow when the investigation is completed," Vernon Mayor Harry J. Shortway said Sunday in a Facebook post that also shared the township police department's press release.

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