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Bergen ACO Devastated After SPCA President Orders Dog Shot, Killed

Former Fair Lawn ACO John Timmins' pit bull was shot and killed in September.
Former Fair Lawn ACO John Timmins' pit bull was shot and killed in September. Photo Credit: John Timmins FACEBOOK

PASSAIC, N.J. — A Bergen County animal control officer says he's devasted after the Chief of the Passaic County SPCA ordered his loose dog shot and killed last month.

According to a police report, Chief Robert Boyle — who is also head animal control officer and a sitting board member for the NJSPCA — ordered an officer to shoot John Timmins' American Bulldog after bystanders said it was attacking six dogs and bit a person on Sept. 23.

The report says that Timmins understood the approach and did not object to the outcome.

Timmins, who has nearly two decades of experience working in Bergen County, said otherwise.

"I'm devastated," he said.

"I never said I understood the approach and I definitely do not understand the outcome.

"I have never ordered a dog dead, even an aggressive one. If it was me, this never would have happened.

"It's my job to get that dog back without incident, and I didn't expect Chief Boyle to allow something as silly as this happen."

Daily Voice called the NJSPCA and placed an email to Chief Boyle on Tuesday evening.

Timmins also said he told the officers he wasn't ready to take the dog's body home yet, but when he went to pick it up, he was told that his dog had been decapitated for testing, which he never approved.

A petition on Change.org started by Reformers - Advocates For Animal Shelter Change in NJ seeking to remove the Passaic County SPCA from his position has garnered more than 250 signatures as of Tuesday evening.

The police report referred to the dog as a pit bull throughout. Timmins maintained she was an American Bulldog.

On Sept. 23, at approximately 8:50 p.m., Officer Samuel Rivera was dispatched to Tenth and South streets on a report of a pit bull attacking other dogs.

A bystander told the officer she heard screams from a child and when she went to the scene, saw the dog attacking other small dogs, according to the report.

The officer saw the pit bull begin to attack a small cat and another dog, who was able to get away.

Timmins said his dog does not have a history of biting and does not believe that his dog attacked anyone or anything.

At 9:18 p.m., Boyle arrived on scene and helped Rivera search for the dog, who had taken off on a nearby trail that lets out near ShopRite. Another officer located the dog on Eighth Street, and Boyle made a futile attempt to capture the dog with a snare pole.

The pit bull turned toward Boyle and appeared to get into an aggressive stance. Boyle said the best option at this point would be to neutralize the animal.

When asked if he had a tranquilizer gun, Boyle indicated that he did not.

At 9:30 p.m., Brian Gunderson from the Passaic Animal Control arrived on scene and agreed that the dog should be neutralized before it attacked again.

Clearance was given to neutralize the animal and at 9:46 p.m., Rivera saw the pit bull lay down in a field and took a safe shot with his shotgun.

The pit bull was struck behind his right shoulder and was instantly neutralized, Rivera wrote.The dog's body was taken for disposal and less than an hour later, the owner was located and taken to headquarters.

Wildfire was able to use a picnic table to jump over a fence and escape, something Timmins said he accepted was his fault.

"I should've moved the picnic table back into the yard after I mowed the lawn, and that's a mistake I'm going to have to live with," he said. "But they did not make a mistake — they acted out of malice."

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