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Broward Sheriff's Office skips honors for police dog killed off duty

Civilian kills BSO K-9 Pedro confusing him with wild coyote

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Broward Sheriff's Office often shows off its proud K-9 unit at community events and there was even a reality TV show featuring often dangerous work of the trained dogs. But when the K9 officer Pedro was gunned down nearly two weeks ago, the agency kept the tragic death from the public.

Pedro was living at the Parkland home of his handler, Sgt. Ian Sklar, who also supervises the K-9 unit. Without his knowledge, Pedro escaped. The dog got out of the heavily gated yard the night of May 14, which was Mother’s Day. He made it to a home more than a half mile away, where he was shot and killed by resident John Dagati, who mistook the German shepherd for a coyote.

According to the report, Pedro -- who was 4 years, 7 months old -- initially startled Dagati’s father, Frank, by jumping up on him. When the son heard his father yell, he grabbed his 9 mm pistol. Pedro, meanwhile, walked into the family’s guest house before walking back out into the yard. 

When John Dagati arrived with his pistol, he mistook the dog for a coyote and believed the coyote had attacked his father.

"John fired the complete magazine containing 10 rounds," the deputies wrote in the incident report. "The dog was struck and fell to the ground. The dog died on scene. … John and Frank were fully cooperative and John stated he felt bad that he shot the dog."

Neighbor Cindy Schnell said she wanted to know how the dog got out of the house. 

"I’m shocked and horrified," Schnell said.

Pedro was not given a memorial service.

After the story aired on Local 10 News on Friday night, BSO spokeswoman Veda Cole-Wright said K-9 Pedro wasn't given an official memorial service, because he wasn't killed in the line of duty. 

While the Broward Sheriff Scott Israel refused to comment on the death. Sklar was not found to have violated any of the policies of the Sheriff's Office.

Local 10 News' Janine Stanwood contributed to this story.