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It sounds a bit strange, but Atticus shoots Tim Johnson and kills him. This sounds strange, but it is not because Tim Johnson is not a human being. Tim Johnson is a dog.
Tim has gone mad -- presumably he has rabies. That makes him a danger to everyone in town because if he bites them they will get the disease. Heck Tate asks Atticus to shoot the dog because Atticus is the best shot around. With Atticus shooting, there will be less risk of the bullet missing Tim and accidentally hurting a person.
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