KENNEWICK, Wash. — Blood stains from Hank the boxer still can be seen on the gravel road where he was shot Thursday, two doors down from the home of his owner, Katie Griffith.
Griffith, 26, had just returned from her job at Hanford and was waiting at the group of mailboxes at the top of the private road in Rancho Reata in rural Kennewick when a Benton County sheriff's deputy approached her and told her Hank was dead.
She was incredulous as the deputy told her a neighbor claimed the dog lunged at him, causing the neighbor to pull his gun in self-defense. She found her dog wrapped in a tarp in her front yard.
Benton County sheriff's Sgt. Mathew Clarke said the neighbor reported being threatened.
That's something Griffith and her family don't believe, saying her dogs were well known and well liked in the neighborhood and had never been a problem before.
"All my neighbors are distraught," she said.
Griffith and her fiancé, Dan Morrow, moved to the neighborhood last December. Griffith grew up in south Richland and her parents live nearby. Her parents breed boxers and Hank was one they raised. Griffith also has one of Hank's puppies, 1-year-old Alvin.
The couple have had a fenced yard for a few months, and before then the dogs only were outside when they were home, Griffith said. Since the fence was built, the dogs can go outside anytime from the garage and kennel.
No one knows why the dogs decided to dig under the fence and get out, and it's not clear when exactly during the day the dogs escaped and got loose.
Clarke said the neighbor who shot the dog was with his wife and young child when the dog approached them in an aggressive manner. Hank reportedly never stepped on the neighbor's property.
"In the county, if the dog comes off its (owner's) property and is aggressive toward someone, they have a right to defend themselves," Clarke said.
Griffith's father, Kris Colborn, said he spoke with the man and was told he was just protecting himself and that he has a gun permit.
But other neighbors have told Griffith they don't think the dog was acting aggressively but was barking.
Griffith and her family are awaiting the sheriff's report on the incident. She said she doesn't understand why her neighbor couldn't have called for someone to remove the dog or report him as a nuisance before shooting Hank.
For the moment, though, she's still trying to calm Alvin, who was found terrified under one of Griffith's vehicles in the driveway Thursday, not far from his father's body.