My heart goes out to all who were involved with the shooting of a pet dog that got out of his owner's yard in Vernon Township — first and foremost to the officer who pulled the trigger.

You can look at the body cam video as much as you want and find things after multiple takes that the officer only got to see once and had to make a split-second decision about, which I'm guessing was the last thing he wanted to do.

Secondly, I feel for to the owners of the dog, who must be heartbroken over the loss of their family member, knowing that they are responsible. That's something that they are going to have to live with the rest of their lives. But the question begs asking: Could there have been another way to deal with a loose barking and or growling dog? I ask partly because as a dog owner, I worry if my dog should get out and run around the neighborhood.

Retired police detective and New Jersey 101.5 personality Eric Potts says there is no formal training for dealing with runaway dogs, but there were other options such as pepper spray or using the asp or baton, not a to mention a well-placed kick.

Potts says the police are formally trained in the use of force steps that apply to humans as well. They would be to issue a verbal command, gets hands on, mechanical (which is use of asp, pepper spray or deadly force if necessary) but there is no requirement to follow those steps in order. The officer can do what he or she feels is necessary. They can go right to the step that they feel is necessary to overcome the threat.

What happened in Vernon is a very unusual occurrence. Think of how many dogs escape their yards everyday in New Jersey and the police that bring them in. Personally I've had several instances where my dog Ziggy was brought back safe by police — one time after he jumped into the Assunpink Lake and stunk to  high heaven.

What we learn from this is that anything can happen when a dog gets loose and it's more important than ever to make sure that they are secured. If you can't do that, then you shouldn't have a dog in the first place.

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