(WMC-TV) - An American bulldog is at the center of a controversial shooting by Memphis police.
MPD says the dog, which was not on a leash, was shot in defense after it allegedly attacked a police K-9.
But dog owners, Patricia and Ernie Ryans want answers. They say the shooting of their 7-year-old bulldog should have never happened.
The shooting happened in the 8300 block of Burning Tree Lane. That is where both Memphis police and Shelby County deputies were searching for a suspect after DWJ's was robbed.
According to police, that is when one of their K-9 officers came across the bulldog, Duncan. The dog was unleashed and roaming around in the family's driveway when Duncan and the police dog got into a fight.
At some point during the fight, the owner came outside. The officer asked her to get her dog, while trying to fend it off. She was warned that it would be shot if she did not get her dog off of the officer's K-9. Despite being warned, police say the owner did not remove her dog from the situation.
It was a short time later that the Ryans family say they heard the gunshot.
"He shot him dead in the heart, like he was aiming right there dead in the heart and he said we don't shoot to injure, we shoot to kill that's how we've been trained,'" said Patricia Ryans.
The Ryans say their dog was attacked first, and was simply trying to defend itself from the police dog and an MPD officer, who they say was hitting their dog with a stick.
Action News 5 is told the K-9 dog was injured by a dog bite and was taken to the vet.
The family says they were given a citation for not having the dog on a leash.
The Memphis Police Department has not yet responded to Action News 5's request for a statement on the Ryans' allegations.
As for the Ryans, they are due in court on December 6.
The robbery suspect, Brandon Evans, was also arrested. He is accused of pointing a gun at the victim's head before stealing $600, his phone, and debit card. After he was caught in the area where the dog fight happened, police brought Evans back to where the robbery happened.
Police say the victim identified Evans as the man who robbed him.
He is charged with aggravated robbery.