The site of a dog shooting on July 16, 2018

A Philadelphia sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a dog in Center City Tuesday morning, the PPD confirmed.

The incident occured near 15th and Arch streets around 7 or 8 a.m, per CBS and PMN, respectively. Shortly thereafter, photos circulated on social media, showing the dog’s body covered by a jacket and a distraught person nearby. Several readers who saw the photos reached out to Billy Penn, alarmed by the situation.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the deputy was reacting to the dog lunging toward them, and had no choice but to shoot in self defense.

The whole thing started, a sheriff spokesperson said, when two deputies overheard a nearby altercation between two men on the street, supposedly over an attempted robbery. The deputies tried to separate the men, one of whom appeared to be experiencing homelessness.

That man allegedly had the dog tethered to his backpack, the spokesperson said, and at some point he removed the pack to lunge at the guy with whom he was arguing. It was then that the dog — a pitbull-type, per the Sheriff’s Office — supposedly lunged toward the deputy. The deputy, reacting quickly, fired at the dog.

What happened to the dog after that? Officers brought the body to Philadelphia ACCT, an animal control spokesperson said, which is normal protocol if the dog owner does not want to take it to a private facility on their own.

Dogs shot by officers are not an everyday occurrence in Philly, of course, but it does happen with relative frequency. Philadelphia Police Dept officials declined to provide details on how often when a reporter for The Atlantic requested it in 2017, but the ensuing article — which examines what dog shootings can tell us about policing in general — suggests it happens in major cities anywhere between 25 and 50 times a year.

It happened in Philly as recently as March 2018, when a PPD officer shot and killed a charging pitbull.

The Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating what exactly happened in this particular situation.

Danya Henninger is director and editor of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the membership program. She is a former food...