SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The owners of a dog shot and killed by a San Diego police officer during an investigation last month filed a complaint against the department.
Investigators will have to decide if the shooting was legal and in accordance with department policy.
Grizzly the dog was shot and killed in his family's yard. While the claim filed is for $200,000, the family said it was not about money but rather about changing how police officers interact with animals.
Grizzly was a seven-year-old Siberian husky pit mix and his owner Alfredo Fuentes said the family is still grieving his death.
"I'm still in pain and I still miss my best friend," said Fuentes.
On February 22nd, officer Robert Meislemen was investigating reports of an assault and stolen car in City Heights when he went to the Fuentes' home looking for witnesses.
According to the officer, he entered the yard when a gate locked behind him. It was at the moment when Grizzly lunged for him so he shot the dog in self-defense, according to the officer.
Fuentes said Grizzly was friendly and loved by everyone in the neighborhood. "Grizzly never attacked nobody," he said.
Family friend Sundi Sage helped convince the family to take legal action.
"This was a special dog. Me and the family just made it our mission to learn and to make sure something was done about it," said Sage.
Animal rights attorney Jill Ryther is now working with the Fuentes. Last week she filed a claim against the San Diego Police Department seeking $200,000 in damages.
In a phone interview she explained why her firm decided to take the case knowing many of them often go unanswered.
"We really look at the facts with a fine tooth comb and we're careful about the cases we take. This particular case is extremely strong which is why we've agreed to represent the family," she said.
Both Ryther and the family said ultimately it's not money they want but rather better training for officers when it comes to how they interact with dogs.
If the family wins, they plan to donate any settlement to charity.
In the meantime they have are asking for the public's support and have set up a Facebook and a GoFundMe page to spread the word.