To shoot, or not to shoot, wasn't a question for a Peoria man who said he was about to be attacked by two vicious dogs.
But, the owner of the wounded animal feels her neighbor was too quick to pull the trigger on her family pet.
"We've had them since they were puppies, and they're our babies," said Tracy Kreck.
Her two-and-a-half-year-old Rottweilers, Athena and Aurora, escaped from their backyard the morning of Saturday, Nov. 23.
When the family went looking for the dogs, in the area of Hearn and 77th Ave., they noticed a group of police cars a few streets from home.
"We were going around asking, ‘have you seen two dogs?'" Kreck recalled. "And, they (police) kind of fingered me over; and I was like uh-oh."
Police told Kreck her dog, Athena, had been shot in the mouth by a neighbor who felt threatened.
"He should have known; they had collars on, they belonged to somebody and he shouldn't have brought out his gun and endangered the neighborhood like that," Kreck said.
But, Thomas and Jenny Lowther said it was actually Kreck's dogs who put neighbors in danger.
"They were mean," said Jenny Lowther. "They were just growling and barking, and they were just really fast."
She said she had just returned home when the two dogs chased her to her front door.
Once inside, she called police and animal control – while her husband grabbed his gun and went outside.
"We were just watching to just kind of give police or someone an idea of where the dogs were," Thomas Lowther explained.
When he saw they were heading into another part of the neighborhood, he said he followed them from a distance – because he was worried about the safety of children who may have been playing outside.
Thomas Lowther said when the dogs noticed him, they turned around and charged him – growling and snapping – and, he fired his gun.
"I felt my life was in danger," he said. "They were going to attack me being that close. They weren't backing up when I was yelling."
Thomas Lowther said shooting the dog was a last resort decision – one he wishes he didn't have to make.
"I love dogs and I love animals," he said. "I felt horrible about it."
Several surgeries, and about $5,200 in vet bills later, Kreck said Athena is on the mend.
But, she is still very concerned about Thomas Lowther's actions.
"If you're going to be a gun owner, you need to know when to use it and when not to," Kreck said. "Children could've been shot. The bullet could've ricocheted off my dog's jaw, instead of going through it, and could've hit an innocent bystander."
Police said Thomas Lowther did not commit any crime, because he shot the dog in self defense – which a witness confirmed.
Kreck insists her dogs are not vicious and are loving members of their family.
To help offset the cost of Athena's veterinary bills, Kreck has set up several fundraisers – including a Facebook page.
A fundraising car wash is being held at Chilly Bombers, at 51st St. and N. Bell Rd., on Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Kreck said any money that is raised, above Athena's vet bill, will be donated to no-kill animal shelters.
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