PERTH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Fulton County man has been arrested on reckless endangerment and firearms charges after an incident in which he allegedly shot a dog in the head. Joe Passino, who was serving as the Town of Perth’s animal control officer at the time of the incident, allegedly shot the animal on January 4 while responding to a call.

Fulton County officials say the charges are due to Passino discharging his firearm close to a Church, a School which was in session, and an occupied private dwelling.

Officers say the incident happened while Passino was responding to a call regarding two dogs who were loose in the area of County Highway 107 and State Highway 30. Investigators say a woman who witnessed the events fed the dogs treats out of her hand in an attempt to keep them out of the road.

Following his arrival, Passino allegedly followed the dogs onto the property of the Perth Bible Church and Christian Academy. He claims one of the dogs became aggressive at which point he drew his personal firearm and shot the animal, which then fled.

The dog survived and returned home, but suffered a broken jaw and lost several teeth.

Speaking to NEWS10, Passino elected to give his version of events.

The animal control officer says he received multiple complaints and the dog attacked numerous people before he shot it. This includes: the two men who initially made the call, a man in a propane truck, and a man who lives in an apartment near the incident.

On January 4, Passino says he was contacted by two men claiming the dog was attacking them.

Passino, who was patrolling in Mayfield at the time, then contacted his deputy who he told to collect a catch pole and a dog crate before meeting him in Perth.

Upon arrival at the scene, Passino spoke to the initial complainants and quoted them as saying the dog would have bitten them if they had not had a crowbar and a shovel to fend it off.

While following other complaints and tracking the dogs Passino went to the church grounds, close to the pastor’s house. He called the pastor who he claims one of the dogs became aggressive towards, leading Passino to tell the Pastor to go back in his house.

Passino then says one of the dogs “”snipped him” and ran off, before the other dog rounded the corner “growling and lunging” at the animal control officer, forcing him to draw his weapon and fire.

Passino says he has been an animal control officer for more than 24 years and told NEWS10:

“I’ve never in all these years pulled my pistol and shot at dogs in dangerous dog proceedings.”

He also claims the Fulton County Sheriff’s office neglected to interview all witnesses in the case before making the arrest.

Passino is facing the following charges, both of which are misdemeanors:

  • Second degree reckless endangerment
  • Illegal discharge of a firearm

Due to potential conflicts of interest, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office requested requested a Special Prosecutor from Hamilton County be assigned to the case.

Passino was arrested at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and released with an Appearance Ticket returnable to the Town of Perth Court.