LAKEWOOD — Prosecutors are investing the circumstances surrounding a Wednesday incident in which a township officer shot a pit bull named Bella inside a sober living home.

The dog survived and was expected to undergo surgery to its leg on Thursday, but the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey has raised questions about the shooting and the officers' conduct.

Prosecutors said police were at the church-owned halfway house next to All Saints Church about 5 p.m. in a search for a man wanted by Manchester police on a restraining order violation and stalking charge.

"In the process of trying to locate the male, a Lakewood Police Officer encountered an aggressive pit bull that ran towards the officer," prosecutors said Thursday in a statement. "The officer discharged his weapon and wounded the dog. The dog was transported by Lakewood EMS to a local veterinary hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. The officer was not harmed."

Police also did not make any arrests.

In a statement released by the diocese, church officials said police failed to follow an established procedure in which officers who are looking for somebody first notify a staffer, who then brings out the person.

"One of the questions that needs to be answered is why police apparently did not follow this procedure in this case," the diocese said.

"Samaritan House is a place of safety and refuge for men trying to improve their lives and become productive members of society. The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey expresses its deep concern and sadness over this incident, and calls on the Lakewood Police Department and other relevant authorities and law enforcement agencies to investigate and explain the circumstances, with the primary aim of avoiding similar incidents in the future."

The church said police officials are willing to work with the diocese.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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