EMORY — UPDATE 6:30 p.m. — Multiple sources are reporting that Deputy Jerred Dooley has been fired by the Rains County Sheriff's Office. No official statement has been released by the sheriff. Cole Middleton, Candy's owner, said that he has not been notified of the firing, but the move was the beginning of getting justice for Candy.
"It is a step in the right direction,” he said. “I hope that the steps keep going in the right direction. I heard it was still under investigation.”
ORIGINAL — A Rains County man is mourning the death of his dog Candy, a blue heeler, this week after a Rains County Sheriff shot her on Good Friday.
A third generation dairy farmer, Cole Middleton considered the two-year-old Candy part of the family.
“I’ve had her ever since she was five weeks old,” he said. “Ever since day one, she has gone with me to work on my family’s dairy farm. We would sort cows, and she loved it. She was truly incredible. If you were to ask me who the employee of the year was, every year I would give it to Candy.”
According to Middleton, his home was broken into the morning of April 18. He called the Rains County Sheriff Department and after several hours, he went to work with his grandfather on the farm. He said Rains County Deputy Jerred Dooley pulled up in his squad car, parking about 10 feet away from where Candy was resting in the back of Middleton’s truck.
“She began barking, like all good dogs do when someone strange comes up to the house,” he said. “He shot her point blank in the back of the head, which is what the bullet trajectory shows. The whole time we’re coming up the house, and I’m honking my horn. The officer said he didn’t want to get bit, but she’s not going to attack you. She’s a 30-something-pound herding class of dog.”
The shot did not kill Candy right away, however, and Middleton said he begged Officer Dooley to put Candy out of her misery.
“I begged him, ‘Please, finish her,’” he said. “My guns were stolen; my dog was in unbearable pain; this needs to stop now.”
Middleton said Dooley refused, and then returned to his vehicle and called for backup. According to Middleton, he then had to do the unthinkable and put Candy out of her misery himself. A lengthy interaction between the Middleton family and law enforcement officers ensued.
“We finally convinced them it was our house that had been robbed,” Middleton said. “That the officer had pulled into my yard and shot an innocent dog.”
Supporters of Middleton have grown by the thousands, thanks to a Facebook page “Justice for Candy.” Middleton said that the support has been overwhelming.
“It’s an answer to prayer,” he said, stating that he has received support from across the nation. “People are standing behind us, and I think they realize this could very easily happen to them.”
The Rains County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately return the Herald-Banner’s calls, but did release a statement on Wednesday indicating that Dooley has been placed on administrative leave and they are investigating the incident. Middleton said that he hopes the Sheriff’s Department, which does not have a policy for dealing with these kinds of incidents, enacts one, and that Dooley is fired.
“Officer Dooley needs to lose his job, number one,” Middleton said. “Number two, he needs to lose his badge. A peace officer who makes irrational decisions like this does not need to be on the streets. He invaded and attacked, instead of serving and protecting.”
Middleton also said he wants criminal charges brought against Dooley. He has begun collecting donations through a page on GoFundMe.com that he said will be used to ensure justice for Candy. According to Middleton, any extra money will be donated to causes supporting abused animals. The page already has received more than $5,000 in donations.