TOWN OF PERTH – The animal control officer for the Town of Perth has been arrested, accused of illegally and recklessly firing his personal weapon at a dog, near a church, an in-session school and occupied home, Fulton County Sheriff’s officials said.
The dog, which the animal control officer claimed had become aggressive, was struck with one round in the snout, causing the loss of several teeth and a broken jaw, officials said.
Arrested Wednesday was Joseph Passino, age and address unavailable. Passino served at the time of the January incident as the town’s animal control officer, officials said. He remained listed officially as the town’s dog control officer on the Perth website Wednesday.
Passino was charged with one count each of second-degree reckless endangerment and illegal discharge of a firearm, misdemeanors.
The investigation began in January when investigators took notice of a social media post that claimed a dog had been shot with a firearm by sheriff’s deputies and had suffered serious injuries.
The investigation then led to Passino and a Jan. 4 call. As the town’s animal control officer, he was called to the area of County Highway 107 and State Highway 30. A caller reported two dogs running at large in that area.
Investigators spoke with several witnesses to the incident, including a woman who reported she had made attempts to keep the dogs out of the road, even feeding them dog treats out of her own hand.
Upon arriving, Passino reportedly followed the dogs onto the property of the Perth Bible Church and Christian Academy, where he claimed one of the dogs became aggressive, officials said.
He then drew his personal handgun and fired, injuring the dog. The dog fled the area, but eventually returned home. A sheriff’s release did not give an update on the dog’s condition since the incident.
The charges relate to where he is accused of firing the gun, within range of both the church, school and an occupied dwelling, officials said.
Due to potential conflicts of interest, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office requested a special prosecutor from Hamilton County be assigned, officials said. The special prosecutor met with investigators, reviewed the case and made the decision to prosecute, officials said.
Passino was arrested and released to appear in court later.