Manatee County deputies shot and killed dog after it accidentally dialed 911

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - Like the rain that fell in the background, tears fell out of Christina Viviani's eyes. 

"I don't have any children of my own and I picked him out when he was five weeks old.  He was my baby," Viviani cried.

She is crying over her pitbull mastiff, Azi who was shot by a Manatee County deputy Sunday.

Viviani and her brother Joe had gone shopping leaving Azi, his brother Gus, and two other dogs home with their mother.

Somehow, Viviani said, one of the dogs called 911 from a phone that had been laying on a couch. The operator on the other end tried responding.

An operator can be heard saying, "Manatee county 911. Hello? Hello?"

Following procedure, the dispatcher called deputies.

"This is operator 149, transferring an open line 5012 21st Street West -- nothing heard," the dispatcher said to a sheriff deputy on the other line.

Thinking someone maybe in danger and following protocol. Deputies immediately rushed to the home. Viviani said her mother heard a loud knock on the window and then the door.

"So she opens the door and all four dogs come rushing outside," Viviani said.

What happened next is in dispute.  Viviani claimed Azi got excited. Deputies said he became violent and lunged. They say they had no choice but to shoot.

"You couldn't mace the dog?" asked Viviani.  "You couldn't use your baton? You couldn't zap? You had to shoot him in the eye?"

A spokesperson with the sheriff's office said when a deputy feels his life is threatened, firing a gun is the measure they need to take.

Deputies do sympathize and feel badly that the family lost their pet. But they followed procedure and say they had no other choice.

The deputy who fired the gun is on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

For Viviani, the shooting changed her life.

"It's like them coming to my house and killing a family member. That is exactly what they did," Viviani said, once again crying. "But people don't think about it like that because it is a dog."

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