Mendocino Sheriff Officers Killed My Best Friend

[This happened on the same day that the Mendo Sheriff's Deputies also shot
and killed Angel Hernandez Farias.]

My name is Anna Renee White. I am 25 years old. I am from Willits, Ca. and
currently a full time college student at Humboldt State University. When I am
not busy working, in classes or doing homework- you would usually find me at
the beach with my pit mix Tonka. He was my best friend.
Recently my best friend was unfairly taken away from me.

On July 27, 2010 the local Mendocino county law enforcement agencies
came to my parents home in Willits to serve a search warrant and question my
parents about an acquaintance of theirs. They obtained the search warrant
because a criminal they had been surveillancing for a couple of months stopped
by my parent’s home frequently to have my dad fix his vehicles. My father is
known locally for his mechanical abilities and is usually able to fix things
quicker and/or more cheaply than the local garages. There are many people
who have him work on their vehicles. They already had their criminal in
custody when they came to our home. When the officers approached our house
our three dogs ran out to greet them. The three dogs consist of a 3 yr old
70lb Queensland-healer, 13 yr old 90lb Airedale terrier, and my 8 yr old 80lb
pit mix Tonka. My parents 2 dogs (the Airedale and Queensland healer) ran
down to the gate and Tonka stopped on the porch at the top of the stairs
right behind them. This was their usual routine for greeting people. My
father heard the dogs barking and got up from his chair in the front room and
went out to hush them up and see who was there. As he stepped out onto the
fro porch, for unknown reasons, one of the lead police officers entering our
front gate shot my pit mix who was standing up on the porch approximately 6
feet from the officer. Tonka then ran into the house to our bed, where he
slept with me every night since he was 5 weeks old. That was his little safe
spot where he would go when he was hurt, sick or in trouble. And that is
where he died from the bullet wound to his chest. The officers proceeded to
search our house, never calling for help for my dog. They threw his body on
the floor of our bedroom so that they could dump my pictures, school books,
laundry, jewelry, and some other stuff onto my bed (right onto my blood
saturated sheets) as they were looking through it. They found absolutely
nothing that they thought they were coming here to find. They found nothing
against any of us. No one was doing anything illegal. And no one was
arrested from my house. The officers then left and offered to have animal
control come clean up my best friend’s (Tonka’s) body. We refused the
offer and buried him here at our home. None of the officers even bothered
with saying sorry for killing my best friend.

Tonka was a good dog. All my friends and their children loved him. He
had an awesome personality. He loved everyone (especially if they scratched
his butt). He was quick to attach himself to people and other dogs. All my
friends would bring their dogs (male or Female) over to play with Tonka.
He was never aggressive to people, kids, or other animals. I have had him
out on cow and horse fields and never had any problem. I could not have
asked for a better friend than Tonka. He was honestly more like a child to
me than just a dog.

Then a week later after the law enforcement agencies found out that I
was having a story printed in the news paper about it, the officers had an
article printed in one of the local papers saying how they went to do this
big bust and was greeted by a vicious pit-bull who came out “snarling and
snapping” at officers. At this point I have had my story printed in the paper.
I talked to the editor who wrote the officers awful story and pointed
out some obvious untruths and had her do a follow-up on the story. I have
filed a complaint with the local police department and an investigation is
under way. And I am talking to a lawyer about possibly pressing charges
against the shooting officer and the rest of his team. I know it will be a
long rough road getting anything done about this. But I know it will be worth
it. No one should have to feel as awful as I do now. And law enforcement
agencies/officials should change their procedures so that family pets are not
being murdered by them.


Complaint filed over dog shooting

By TIFFANY REVELLE The Daily Journal Updated: 08/06/2010 12:02:27 AM PDT

The woman whose dog was shot and killed last month, when the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force searched her Willits home, has filed a misconduct complaint with the Willits Police Department.

The WPD is investigating the complaint, according to Sgt. Jack Donahue. The dog was shot in the chest, reportedly by a WPD officer assigned to the Task Force who was leading a group of officers up to the home's front porch July 24.

The Task Force was investigating two men who allegedly sold chemicals used to make methamphetamine and served search warrants at three homes, one in Livermore, another in Covelo and the Willits home.

Officers seized 465 marijuana plants at the Livermore home, and believed one of the suspects, Craig Gelber, 44, of Covelo, was using the home to store his possessions, according to Task Force Commander Bob Nishiyama.

A Task Force officer on surveillance spotted Gelber carrying "starter" marijuana plants out of the Willits home and putting them in his truck since the investigation began in May, according to Nishiyama.

He said the dog, a pit bull mix, came at the lead officer snarling and trying to bite as the team of officers were coming up the home's front porch when the warrant was served.

"He was not trying to bite anyone," said Anna Renee White, the dog's owner, who said she wasn't at the property when the Task Force arrived and came through the front gate with guns drawn.

"My dog has never had any complaints against him for aggressiveness or anything of that sort. Everyone loved Tonka and thought he was a good dog ... he never snarled or bit at anyone," White said.

She said her friends' children and other dogs played with Tonka, and the dog's typical response to strangers coming through the gate was to sit on the porch, sometimes getting excited.

Nishiyama said he wasn't at the home when the warrant was served, either. He said the pit bull mix came out of the house with two other dogs and was the only one that continued to move toward the officers after the other two dogs ran back inside.

"It (the officer's action) was understandable, but it was horribly tragic," Nishiyama said. "Someone's pet is dead, and I feel horrible."

Nishiyama said he loves dogs and doesn't blame the dog or believe it was a trained guard dog.

"The dog was doing what dogs do naturally," he said. "Even the nicest pet will protect its owners."

He said in his 11 years in Mendocino County, this is the first time a dog has been shot during service of a warrant by the Task Force.

Nishiyama noted the Task Force serves an average of 150 warrants a year, and encounters dogs about three-quarters of the time. He said officers keep a wary eye on barking dogs, but there is a difference between dogs that bark and stay in one place and dogs that bark and charge.

White also noted that, contrary to Nishiyama's earlier statement, county Animal Control wasn't called to revive her dog. She said officers offered to call Animal Control to remove her dog's body, but the family opted to bury the dog.

Nishiyama said officers arrived at the Willits home at about noon.

Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office - which oversees the county's animal control officers - received a call at 12:36 p.m. that day for a "deceased dog" at the home, but the call was canceled.

Nishiyama said the dog ran inside the house after it was shot, and an officer found it in a bedroom and called Animal Control. He said he didn't know exactly when the dog died.

Tiffany Revelle can be reached at, or at 707-468-3523.

Police kill family pet during search warrant, find nothing

By Linda Williams/TWN Staff Writer      Posted: 08/04/2010 10:49:49 AM PDT

Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force agents, aided by a uniformed Willits police officer, serving a search warrant at 64 Franklin Avenue on July 27, shot and killed a family pet, an 8-year-old half-pit bull mix named Tonka.

When agents searched the home, they found nothing directly linking the residents to the arrest of Craig Anthony Gelber, the target of the search, according to MMCTF Commander Bob Nishiyama.

Nishiyama alleges Gelber sold chemicals used for the manufacture of methamphetamine to undercover agents and had been observed at the 64 Franklin Avenue location with marijuana starts. That same day, search warrants were served at locations in Livermore and Covelo in the same case. In Covelo, officers found a 300-plus plant marijuana grow site. Gelber was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a crime.

"I know the officer felt terrible," says Nishiyama about the shooting. "You may have the nicest dog in the world, but we don't know it. Officers are authorized to defend themselves. We offered to take the dog and take care of it, but the family preferred to handle the arrangements themselves."

According to resident Anna White, Tonka's owner, the police shot her pet while it was in a fenced area on her front porch. "We found the shell casing outside by the fence area. Tonka then ran into our house, got onto my bed and died."

White described her bedroom following the search, claiming Tonka's body had been dumped from the bed onto the floor and items from her room dropped onto the body and into the dog's blood. "They destroyed our house and found nothing," says White. "Tonka lived long enough to die on my bed, which we shared each night."

Tonka was one of three dogs at the home. White's father was the only family member at home during the first part of the search. Her father got to the door after the shot had been fired, says White. The three dogs then ran into the home. Her father did not know at first Tonka had been shot since he was handcuffed and lying on the floor during the search.

Tonka was on the porch when officers approached the residence. According to Nishiyama, the homeowner was inside the home and the dog charged down the stairs, barking and snarling at the officer, who fired in self-defense. All three dogs then took off into the home.

White has filed a complaint against the Willits police officer who fired the fatal shot. Willits police Chief Gerry Gonzalez says he cannot comment on the incident until the complaint has been investigated.