Park City man threatens to shoot dog at park in the Snyderville Basin
A 64-year-old Park City man threatened to shoot a dog at the Run-A-Muk Trail near the Utah Olympic Park on Thursday while his dog was being attacked, according to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
At around 1:45 p.m., a witness contacted the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident, which took place within the confines of the off-leash dog park. The witness told deputies the two off-leash dogs were fighting when the man lifted his shirt to reveal a concealed .380 caliber handgun tucked in his waistband.
He then told the owner of the other dog, described by witnesses as a man in his 80s, “I’ll blow your dog’s head off,” Lt. Andrew Wright said. He said multiple witnesses observed the man brandish the firearm, but the man claimed he never threatened to use it against the person. The Sheriff’s Office did not release the name of the man who presented the weapon.
Both men left the area before deputies arrived. However, they later located the man with the weapon in the Kimball Junction area near Landmark Drive. Wright said he admitted to the confrontation and threatening to shoot the dog.
“He told deputies he was already frustrated because when he was in Utah County earlier that day his dog had been attacked by another dog,” Wright said. “He recognized after a long conversation with our deputies what his responsibility is as firearm permit holder. He realized he was in the wrong and his actions weren’t the best.”
Deputies did not cite the man for the altercation or brandishing his firearm and he was released. However, Wright said the Sheriff’s Office plans to notify the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification of the man’s actions. The bureau is responsible for administering concealed firearm permits, among other duties.
The other man involved in the altercation has not been identified or contacted the Sheriff’s Office to file a report.
“In talking with the supervisor that was on patrol, it is one of those things where, without a victim, there is no crime so to speak,” Wright said. “Could we have gone down the road of disorderly conduct? Absolutely.”
Wright said the man claimed his actions were in self-defense, but self-defense does not apply to animals. Utah is an open-carry state for valid permit holders. However, deadly force can only be used to prevent serious bodily injury or death to oneself or a third party.
“When they asked the man who made the threat why he felt it was necessary, he said the other dog was about 100 pounds,” Wright said. “The opinion of the supervisor was that a dog is not going to present a life or safety risk to a grown man and a reasonable person would conclude that was not reasonable conduct.”
Wright said it is the responsibility of the permit holder to make sure they are following the law and their conduct is in line with the restrictions placed on gun owners.
“The best thing to do in this situation is call us,” he said. “Let us intervene and get animal control involved to deal with the aggressive dog.”
The case will likely be reviewed by the Summit County Attorney’s Office to determine if charges are warranted.
Brian Hanton, director of the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District, said he has never heard of a similar incident occurring at any of the recreation district’s parks. He said signs are placed at all the parks to encourage owners to either leash aggressive dogs when at the park or not visit.
“But we would never expect something like this to occur,” he said. “We know people love their dogs as much as they do their kids and they will protect them however they see fit. Hopefully it doesn’t escalate to this level, though. We want to keep every facility safe whether they are parks or hard-walled facilities.”
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