OAKLAND -- Gunmen robbed two people Tuesday night in East Oakland and shot their dog when it started growling at them, police said Wednesday.

The 3-year-old male Rottweiler, named Coffee, was wounded in the jaw and one eye. He underwent surgery at the Pets Referral Center, a 24-hour clinic, in Berkeley. A spokesperson said Coffee was expected to recover, but might lose sight in the eye.

Police said the dog never tried to charge or lunge at the suspects, but just growled ¿when he sensed his owners were in danger. "It was pretty cowardly to shoot him," one officer said.

The incident happened about 9:01 p.m. Tuesday in the 1500 block of 41st Avenue in the Fruitvale district.

The owners, a man and woman who live in the area, were giving Coffee his nightly walk when they were confronted by one of the gunmen, who told the man to empty his pockets. The second gunman then appeared.

Apparently becoming impatient, one of the suspects ordered the couple to put their hands up. He began going through the man's pockets, causing him to drop the dog's leash. It was then the dog started growling and was shot by the second gunman.

The man lost his wallet and cellphone to the robbers, who ran away.

Neither robbery victim, whose names were not released, was hurt. Police took Coffee and the man in a patrol car to the Berkeley center while the woman returned home. Police said when they arrived, the dog was bleeding profusely and whimpering.


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Police said the dog was not being that aggressive, and the victims were cooperating with the robbers. Shooting the dog was "very unnecessary," police said. The victims could not be reached.

The area where the robbery happened is primarily residential with older, well-kept homes.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said Wednesday she was very surprised by the robbery.

"Nothing like this ever happens in this neighborhood," she said.

Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $5,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrests of the suspects.

Anyone with information may call police at 510-238-3821 or a tip line at 510-773-2805. Tips can also be sent anonymously via text message. Text to 888-777 and include the words TipOaklandPD.