A Lexington family whose dog was shot and killed by a Lexington police officer inside the owner's fenced-in yard Thursday has a new puppy after a donation from a Pulaski County family.
Science Hill breeders Vince and Melanie Bill said they were saddened when they saw news reports that officer Aaron Greenleaf shot Rocky, a 10-year-old German Rottweiler, after the officer entered Lexington resident Michael Powell's yard searching for a fleeing suspect.
"It broke my heart, really, when I found out," Melanie Bill said. "I know I would be devastated if something like this happened to one of my dogs."
Police said Rocky attacked Greenleaf, biting him on the leg and preventing him from leaving the yard. But Powell, who owned Rocky, said the dog had never been aggressive.
"He might try and lick you to death, but that's about it," Powell said.
The bite did not break the officer's skin, police said. Greenleaf was not hospitalized after the incident.
The Bills had been trying to breed their two Rottweilers for years and had recently succeeded through artificial insemination, spawning a litter of seven American Kennel Club-registered, purebred German Rottweiler puppies. The two run a masonry business full time and breed dogs on the side.
On Thursday, the day that Rocky was killed, Melanie Bill happened to put an ad in the Lexington Herald-Leader, asking for $800 per pup. Powell saw the ad and called her Friday, he said, interested in buying a new dog for his 8-year-old. The boy was devastated by Rocky's death.
After discussing it with her husband, Bill offered to give the puppy to Powell and his son, Michael Kobi Powell, at no charge.
The Powells picked up the 9-week-old pup Saturday morning. His name is Bubba Nikko Powell.
"They're nice," Michael Kobi said of the Bills. "I'm glad that they gave us the dog."
Powell said the family has received an outpouring of support from friends, neighbors and dog lovers. On Saturday, while Powell and his son were out, someone anonymously dropped off two custom-made headstones sporting Rocky's name. Others have said they would write letters or sign petitions to the Lexington city government demanding the shooting be investigated.
Lexington police have said they plan to rectify the loss. But two days after the shooting, Powell said he had not heard from officers.
"I would be satisfied if that officer would apologize to my son and say 'I screwed up,'" Powell said.
Vince Bill has owned Rottweilers for 20 years, Melanie Bill said, but the two only recently started breeding dogs. Bill said she hopes the ordeal brings attention to the breed's gentle demeanor.
"Rottweilers unfortunately have such a bad reputation, but they're wonderful, lovable family-oriented dogs," she said.
Michael Kobi Powell agreed. The 150-pound Rocky had been his companion his whole life.
"He only looked like he was mean because he was big," Michael Kobi said.