BENTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- One neighbor claims the dog he shot killed his chickens and then tried to attack him. The owners insist their dog would never hurt anyone.
Eric and Nicole Bankes moved to the Benton area in January so they could build their dream home in a rural area.
Their dream turned into a nightmare earlier this week when their two dogs ran outside their electronic fence. Husky-Pitbull mix Lexi and Pitbull Mercedez were nowhere to be found.
"I looked for her all day. I looked for both of them all day," Eric said.
A few hours later, Eric found Lexi here on Evans Road, which is about two miles away. At first, he thought she was hit by a car until he took her home.
"I went to cover her up so she didn't see her. When I got home I saw that she had been shot," Eric said.
Lexi was shot in between the eyes in the middle of a public road. A neighbor told the couple he heard three gunshots. Nicole spoke with another neighbor who lives about 300 feet away from where Lexi was shot.
"I looked at the man and I said did you really shoot my dog? He said yeah, yeah I did," Nicole said.
Newswatch 16 went to the man's house and he told us after the dogs killed all of his chickens and tried to attack him, yes, he killed the dog.
But the Bankes say their dogs are not like that.
"Never aggressive at all," Nicole said.
Lexi was a four-year-old Husky Pitbull mix.
"Lexi has never even growled in the four years that we've had her," Nicole said.
The couple says the dogs are friendly and would even sleep in the same room as their young daughter.
"Our two and a half-year-old dresses her up in housecoats, doll clothes and feeds her fake food," Nicole said.
State police are investigating this as a case of animal cruelty.
"How or why would anyone do this to her? She's the sweetest dog ever," Eric said.
"I understand our dogs should not have run, but things happen. I apologize 1,000 times. But to look at something so innocent and hurt it," Nicole said.
The man who told Newswatch 16 he shot the dog referred us to Pennsylvania's Dangerous Dog Law, which calls dogs dangerous if they kill domesticated pets. The dog was killed off the man's property and state police are investigating.