UPTOWN — Colonel Phillips is a 20-pound, 7-month-old miniature bull terrier whose family thought he was destined for dog show fame. Now, he could suffer a permanent limp after being shot by a Chicago police officer Saturday.
World Gym Chicago owners Al and Barbara Phillips said their pup is recovering from surgery to remove a bullet that was lodged in his back left paw and bullet fragments that pierced his belly.
Phillips said he was inside his house about 3 p.m. Saturday with family when a neighbor told him that a police officer was ticketing his van. It was parked in his driveway but blocking part of the sidewalk.
Philips said he ran out to see what was up — but as a 74-year-old man with a bum knee — he wasn't exactly a speedy blur.
The pup slipped out the door with him and bounded ahead, Phillips said.
"The next thing I heard was two gunshots, and my dog tore down the street," Phillips said. "The guy shot the dog. It was crazy."
He didn't see the shots fired. He only heard them, he said.
But neighbors, including Todd McClay, said they saw the whole thing.
McClay said he was with a friend parking on the northeast corner of Hazel Avenue and Buena Street.
They "saw the officer scouting the area looking for vehicles to ticket," before he came across the van, McClay said.
When the dog appeared, "wagging its tail," the officer looked down and drew his gun, McClay and other witnesses said.
The officer screamed once, "waited a couple seconds," screamed again, "waited a couple seconds" — and then "he was firing," McClay said.
"He did not give [Phillips] ample time to get his dog," McClay said.
McClay, who helped chase the dog down after it fled, bleeding, was puzzled by the shooting but said "I really think that this guy is just terrified of animals."
The officer is "deranged," said Barbara Phillips, who rushed the pup to an animal emergency room and missed her granddaughter Bella's second birthday in the process.
"First of all, the dog is not even 30 pounds," she said. "[Colonel] ran out with his tail wagging. He's a puppy. He's little!"
Miniature bull terriers live up to their middle name by being "strongly built" dogs, according to the American Kennel Club.
The breed, made famous as the "Spuds Mackenzie" dog in Bud Light commercials, is also known as "clownish," energetic and "full of fire," but with an even temperament that makes it "amendable to discipline," according to the kennel club.
Colonel is a cheerful, friendly dog, neighbors said.
A Chicago Police Department spokesman confirmed Monday evening that an incident had occurred in Uptown on Saturday "in which an officer discharged a weapon and struck a dog."
He said that the Independent Police Review Authority is investigating, but couldn't provide more details.
Suing the police department could be the couple's next course of action.
"I'm mad enough to file a suit," Al Phillips said. "I'm so angered that I believe I might be forced to do that. I don't know what my options are. But the first thing, this guy should not be on the street. And if he has to be on the street, we don't want him in this neighborhood."
He said that the officer didn't apologize.
"He holstered his gun and completed his solemn duty to write the ticket," Al Phillips said.
Barbara Phillips feared that the bullets could have ricocheted and hit a passerby, onlooker — or her husband.
She said the couple, Uptown residents for more than 30 years, spent $8,700 in medical expenses.
She bought Colonel in Florida earlier this year, she said, noting that he comes from a high pedigree with several "champion" dog show stars in his lineage.
She said she bought the puppy for $2,500 and promised the breeder she would "show" him.
An employee at the Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center said Colonel was in stable condition Monday afternoon and could go home to his family on Tuesday.
But "he can't be shown again" and doctors "think he is going to have a limp," according to Barbara Phillips.
"Whether it's a show dog, whatever it is, you don't shoot a little puppy," she said. "We're just lucky he's alive."