Bear-Bear

In Baltimore, the shooting of someone white is usually a bigger story than the shooting of someone brown. The biggest story in town this morning was the shooting of a brown-and-white. Bear-Bear, a Siberian Husky, whose only offense was to do what dogs do, was shot by an off-duty federal officer who seems to have panicked when the Husky began fighting with his leashed German Shepherd. Dog play certainly can look and sound scary, but if you’ve been raised around dogs, you know that they usually sort these things out themselves.

The Baltimore Sun has the story:

Bear-Bear, a brown and white Husky that’s about three years old, was playing in the Quail Run dog park at about 6:30 p.m., running off leash inside the fenced-in area, when the officer and his wife arrived with a German Shepherd, who was kept on a leash. When the dogs began to play roughly — the federal officer asked Bear-Bear’s guardian, his owner’s brother, to call off the dog. But before he could do anything, the officer pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear.

A spokesman for Anne Arundel County Police Department said no charges will be filed and investigators found no evidence of criminal activity.

The case has been reopened, officially due to inaccurate initial information, but probably due to public outcry, such as below.

“I have not seen that dog hurt anyone. Or snarl. He’s never even barked,” she said. “His only way was to get out a gun out and shoot him? Uh-uh. It’s completely unbelievable.”

Dorothy Pearce, the homeowner’s association manager, was appalled that someone would fire a gun in the community dog park — at dinner time.

“This is tragic,” she said. “A community of homeowners with children playing around should not have gun-crazy, off-duty policemen shooting in their area, especially a dog in a controllable situation.”

Rettaliala said after the officer shot Bear-Bear, the dog didn’t yelp or cry, he lay down in the grass, bleeding heavily. “He just went and laid down,” she said. “I just can’t get over it and I don’t think it’s being taken seriously because it was an animal involved.”

From the comments:

Many people misread dog language. They think that flashing teeth and growls automatically mean dogs are behaving aggressively. In truth, they can look pretty fierce when they are just having a good time. This seems to happen particularly when two dogs are equally matched. They know they are on an even playing field; they give it all the gusto they can muster because they can without hurting the other dog. From the information available – the policeman mistook a good romp for a fight.

There is a separate issue here. Civilians want to feel safe among police. Our police force is suppose to protect the just. When it appears that one policeman or a department is abusing its protected position in society we feel threatened. If a policeman can shoot a beloved pet – what else can he do?

I would be interested in knowing if the law would have been as lenient had a civilian done the same thing as the policemen. If so, then laws need to be changed. IF not, and IF the husky posed no threat to the shepherd, then the police have crossed a boundary that must be very tempting to cross and never should be.

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