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Teddy, a fluffy, 13-pound white Shih Tzu mix, stumbled around a stranger's yard. Deaf and blind, he used his nose as a guide, eventually lying down in the grass.

He was lost. But the stranger gave him water. He licked her hand and leg, spending the next 45 minutes of the sunny Sunday lolling in the expansive Sturgeon, Mo., yard.

Then a police officer pulled up. Within minutes, he had fired two shots. Teddy, a beloved 5-year-old pet, was left lifeless. His owner, 35-year-old Nick Hunter, found out through a phone call that his playful, sock-eating dog had been killed.

"I was in disbelief," he said in an interview. "I was shaken, in tears, trying to figure out if it was really my dog that an officer had shot or if a mistake had been made."

The officer's actions - shooting a pet after being summoned to help locate its owner - have led to outrage in the 900-person town 20 miles north of Columbia, Mo. Hunter said he is contemplating legal action, while other angered residents have pledged to pack an upcoming city meeting.

Sturgeon police officer Myron Woodson initially told Hunter he was not worried about the dog harming him or anyone else, and instead thought Teddy was an injured stray that needed to be put down. But on Monday, in a move some residents viewed as twisting reality to skirt accountability, the city released a statement alleging the officer feared the dog could have had a disease.

"Believing the dog to be severely injured or infected with rabies, and as the officer feared being bitten and being infected with rabies, the SPD officer felt that his only option was to put the animal down," said the statement, released on Facebook to hundreds of upset comments.

The city said Thursday that after reviewing the incident, it determined Woodson acted appropriately. Neither the city nor the police department responded to The Washington Post's questions about why the officer used deadly force.

Teddy was a puppy when Hunter, a gas labor journeyman, took him in from someone who could no longer care for the deaf pet.

"I instantly fell in love with his bubbly and playful personality," he said. "He was so small you could hold him in one hand."

Teddy later lost his sight but kept his love for playing with other animals, being held upside down and, unlike most dogs, going to the groomer.

His last day started like any other. After playing in the yard and taking a dip in a kiddie pool, Teddy and Hunter's other dog, a 10-pound puggle named Gizmo, piled into an outdoor fenced-in 5-by-8-foot kennel, where the two could roll around and go to the bathroom while Hunter went to dinner in Columbia.

At some point, Hunter believes Gizmo dug a hole under the fence and slipped out. Teddy, using his guiding nose, followed, losing his collar on the fence.

Then they were off.

Around 5 p.m., Hunter got a call from a friend, he said. Someone had posted in a local Facebook group that Gizmo and Teddy had escaped and people were looking for their owner. He got in the car to make the 25-minute drive back from Columbia.

Meanwhile, at about that time in Sturgeon, a resident came home to find Teddy in her unfenced yard that backs into a large field - by then the two dogs had separated. The woman, who has not been publicly identified and declined an interview request from The Post, said in a letter to the city she noticed the dog was at least partially blind and confused.

That's when she got him water and coaxed him to lie on the ground next to her. She tried searching on Facebook for his owner but nothing turned up. So she called the police for help. She was worried Teddy could wander off or be hit by a car.

The dispatcher asked if the dog was aggressive.

"No, not at all," she told them, according to the letter.

Then she went inside as the police department - which has just a handful of officers - sent Woodson to help. Body-cam footage obtained by local news outlet ABC 17 shows the officer attempting to corral Teddy with a catch pole for several minutes. The dog does not appear to try to bite the officer.

Five minutes into the video, Woodson opens fire.

The woman came outside to confront the officer about why he would shoot the dog - especially without warning, especially in a quiet neighborhood with children playing nearby.

"I cannot stress enough that this animal was in no way a threat to others!" the letter said.

Soon after, as Hunter was driving home, his friend called again with the news that Teddy was dead. He had to pull over, tears obscuring his vision.

The only thing he could do was call the police department. Woodson told him he could discuss the situation at the department.

"I was confused as to how something like this could ever happen," Hunter said. "It seemed the officer wasn't taking this seriously. I was outraged. I didn't know what to think."

He said it was the longest 25-minute drive of his life.

In a video Hunter filmed at the department, he appeared to be crying as he asked Woodson if he believed the dog was a threat. The officer did not indicate that he did.

Woodson never mentioned rabies, instead saying he thought the dog was injured and that he believed it could be a stray.

"I don't enjoy shooting dogs," the officer said, adding that he had dogs himself. "How am I supposed to know the dog's condition? … I'm sorry I had to do it."

Hunter wondered why the officer so quickly used lethal force and why the county's animal control wasn't called to assist. He also asked for his dog's body, which Woodson returned to him bloodied.

He was relieved to find that Gizmo had made his way home. That night, Hunter and a group of friends buried Teddy in the backyard.

"It was devastating," he said.

The next day he filed a formal complaint with the city and requested that the mayor call him. Then he saw the statement posted on the city's Facebook page that the officer was worried about rabies, which shocked him.

It felt like an effort to dodge responsibility, Hunter said.

Others in the community felt the same way. The city's Facebook posts about the incident drew hundreds of comments claiming it was covering up the officer's actions and the mayor should be held accountable.

"The report of him SHOOTING AN INNOCENT DOG has me beyond pissed. There is NO excuse and no whitewashing the situation. Officer Woodson needs to be removed from our payroll," one resident wrote.

"My heart just broke," another wrote. "I'd flip out if that happened to one of my doggies … RIP Teddy. So sorry this happened to you."

The anger only grew on Thursday, when the city posted on Facebook that Woodson's actions were justified "to protect against possible injury to citizens from what appeared to be an injured, sick, and abandoned dog."

It added that officers would be sent to the county's animal control for training to prevent "this unfortunate situation" from recurring.

Hunter said he was looking for an attorney. He and others plan to flood the city alderman meeting Tuesday to call for the officer's removal.

"This has totally upended our small town," Hunter said. "I just want my little dog back."