Family of Pet Lab Shot by Police Still Searching For Answers

The arthritic, 11-year-old dog was killed by officers during a response to a burglar alarm

Gloria loved to bark at ringing doorbells; it was her way of showing she wanted to be near people. But a few weeks ago, the arthritic, 11-year-old yellow Labrador’s encounter with Oakland police officers ended not in an embrace but with gunfire.

When Mary Kate Hallock, 49, arrived home the afternoon of Sept. 28, she found a blue piece of paper stuck in the door jam of her front porch. “Responded to your residence to investigate a burglar alarm,” the note on the paper read. “While checking rear perimeter, lab advanced on officer and in threatening manner before being shot and killed.”

Hallock, a preschool teacher, was stunned, and reread the note several times. The home she shared with her husband, Ward, and two teenage children had been robbed recently, so Hallock always left her house alarm on. But she couldn’t make sense of why her dog, whom she had owned since Gloria was a puppy, had been shot.

When she called the police supervisor, Hallock says she received an impassioned apology. “He said, ‘We’re so sorry it ended up like this, and the officer involved is very, very sorry,’” Hallock tells PEOPLE. “I was so stunned. They shot her and took her away; that was the weirdest part.”

Gloria’s body was collected and taken to a nearby animal shelter after officers attempted to find the Hallocks’ contact information. They knocked on neighbors’ doors for an hour after the incident, according to Chris Bolton, the Oakland Police Department’s chief of staff.

The Oakland chief of police, Anthony Batts, issued a statement on Oct. 1, saying that it the department was investigating the incident. “The officer stated that the dog was growling and closing the gap between them as the officer was retreating backward,” the statement said. “As the dog continued to advance, the officer discharged his firearm, killing the dog. The end result is not something we wanted, and my heart goes out to the family who has lost their dog.”

The family retrieved Gloria’s body from the shelter and plan to bury the dog’s ashes in a corner of the yard. “She loved to sit there in the sun,” Hallock says. “It’s a spot that won’t ever be disturbed. We can see it from anywhere in the yard.”

As the investigation continues, the Hallocks say they will try to push for better training for police officers, so that other families won’t have to endure the kind of loss they did. And they’ll continue to mourn Gloria, remembering how she used to chase wild turkeys and tennis balls, or roll around in the grass.

“I miss hearing her toenails on the wood floor,” Hallock says. “I miss her being her.”

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