HILLSBORO, Ore. -- An animal control officer accused of abuse after hitting a dog in the face and causing her to lose an eye has been cleared of all charges.
The district attorney's office said Wednesday that Hoyt Stepp took "reasonable action" in the way he dealt with two aggressive dogs late last month, according to Washington County Animal Services.
One of those animals, a swift water rescue dog named Dojie, lost an eye and suffered a fractured skull after Stepp hit her in the face with a baton.
"We are confident this is a highly trained officer who has a difficult job who in this circumstance behaved appropriately, said Bonnie L. Hays Animal Services Director Deborah Wood.
Photos: Dojie the water rescue dog
Dojie’s owner Marlin Starr disputed the officer's actions, prompting the investigation. He said Dojie is not aggressive and could not have provoked the animal control officer to use a “bite stick” baton to hit her.
“How can you tell me that appropriate force was used, if exploding an eye like an orange, cracking a skull and damaging a shoulder is appropriate force, then what is not appropriate force,” said Starr.
Dojie and Starr’s other dog Lucy had gotten out of a gate blown open by the wind, when the animal control officer responded to a call about dogs on the loose.
When Starr got home that afternoon, he found a note on his door left by Stepp that said Dojie was injured. In the note, Stepp said Dojie was dangerous and aggressive and he had to use his baton on her.
Starr was not allowed to attend a press conference inside the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter Wednesday. He waited outside and told reporters he will fight for changes to the use of force policies involving animals.
As for officer Stepp, he was taken off desk duty Wednesday and allowed to return to work in the field.