A good friend of mine posted about his dog on Facebook. He claimed police shot his best friend without provocation [not shown]. According to my pal, he and his wife were out on a Saturday afternoon. When their young son opened the front door to the house the family dog escaped. A neighbor jogging in the area found the family pet. The good Samaritan went back to his home to grab a leash. As the neighbor and my friend’s dog were walking back to the neighbor’s house, a stray cat happened by. The dog, being a dog, chased the cat. The dog won this particular encounter in the endless battle between canine and feline. Someone called the police . . .

The police arrived. According to my friend, a police officer shot his dog without hesitation or provocation. In the police report, another neighbor said they knew the dog; he was very “people friendly.” I don’t know the truth of the matter; but it’s certainly true that people who lose their pets grieve as profoundly as parents who lose a child. Their shock often turns to anger. That’s not always a bad thing.

As a police officer, I hate calls involving animals, especially pets. And we get a lot of them. No, not a cat stuck in the tree; that’s the fire department’s claim to fame. But anything else you can imagine, from escaped snakes to aggressive cats to dangerous dogs to all types of abuse against all kinds of animals.

Dogs and cats can be extremely intimidating. Their growls/hissing and the teeth flaring work on a deep, instinctive level—even as the animal’s owners remain oblivious to the obvious dangers. “He’s just scared.” “I don’t know what’s wrong with her.” Most owners simply can’t see the encounter from an “outsider’s” perspective.

I know officers that have shot at and have shot dogs. I wasn’t there during these incidents. But for me, personally, shooting Fido or Tabby in front of a family has never crossed my mind. I have kidded with my fellow officers: I would take the bite and look at the owner to remove his dog or cat before I’d even consider pulling my gun.

But that doesn’t answer the main question: what should a police officer do when confronting an out-of-control animal? The truth is police officers don’t receive any formal training on how to deal with animals. We’re told to stabilize the situation and keep people away until someone from Animal Control arrives.

Obviously, it’s not enough.

My friend has started a campaign: “Help Prevent the Unnecessary Shooting of Family Dogs by Police Officers.” He’s trying to change the protocol on how officers deal with animal on animal attacks. I welcome the discussion, even in its raw form. [ED: Click here for dogmurders.wordpress.com]

Eventually, I’ll reach out to him and talk to him about his loss. At this moment he’s feeling the blues; the last thing I’m sure he wants to see are the boys in blue, even his friend. I’ll talk to him when the time is right and learn about his cause.

Maybe there’s something I can use to train my fellow officers so the loss of his dog won’t be in vain. It’s the least I can do.

Recommended For You

46 Responses to The Death of a Four-Legged Friend Inspires Police Introspection

    • Calling All Dog Lovers Stop Police From Killing Our Pets – Call For Mandatory Training!!! Plz SIGN PETITION & SHARE!!!

      Institute Mandatory Training for police officers of non-lethal force in handling our canines family.
      petitions.whitehouse.gov
      To make it mandatory to institute a non-lethal training for police officers to handle our canine

  1. “But for me, personally, shooting Fido or Tabby in front of a family has never crossed my mind. I have kidded with my fellow officers: I would take the bite and look at the owner to remove his dog or cat before I’d even consider pulling my gun.”

    My step-son was attacked by a black lab a few summers ago during a hiking trip with his father. The dog was being pet by his fathers wife when he walked up, not even to pet the dog and the dog lunged at him biting his face and causing him to roll down a small hill. The dog was rightfully put down by a vet. My son is permanently scared on his face, and perhaps more sad is the psychological damage – he loves animals but will now cower away from black dogs.

    Dog attacks can happen without notice or warning under calm conditions… the damage a dog can do is unimaginable. Your statement “I would take the bite” either comes from ignorance or ego, probably both.

    Your a cop – get with a K9 unit on a training day and see haw far you get with a dog attacking you. Don’t forget that police dogs are trained to go for arms or legs. Most dogs who will attack will not have such courtesy, and will not think to go for your face or neck, as instinct directs them to.

    Police certainly have killed dogs without provocation, as they have killed people without provocation and done various otherwise illegal things. As is demonstrated by your “I would take the bite” a lot of cops are full of ego to the point that they feel and act as if they are above the law, above any question, or review.

    That said, I think it bears reminding that dogs are always armed, they don’t have to put their teeth in, or get a running start. Being faced with a dog who is acting in an aggressive manner is no different than being faced with a person pointing a gun at you making threats. Dog attacks can result in being permanently scarred (maimed), or death. Either condition meets the civilian criteria for use of deadly force. They certainly meet the criteria for a cop to use deadly force.

    One does have to ask if the use of peeper-spay would be effective. Sure it would deter the dog, make it run away, but to where? Maybe I’m underestimating it’s effectiveness. I’m wondering if a taser would be more effective to neutralize the threat of a dog.

    Of course, what’s the end result? If a dog is acting in a manner that requires the police to get involved, peeper-spray, or taser the end result will probably be the dog being put down.

      • @Christopher P

        And thus you’ve further illustrated my point. You can’t even get over yourself enough to respond to a fair criticism.

      • @Christopher P

        I’ll add:

        Did you even notice that I defended a police officers right to use deadly force against a K9 assailant?

        Of course, each situation is unique and criticism of law enforcement is always called for. It depends on the circumstances. Since we don’t have all the facts in your friends case, and not impartial witness (video) then it’s impossible to draw conclusions specifically.

        What we do know is that police do act responsibly, and fairly, and we also know that they have, and continue to, abuse their power up to the point of murdering people in cold blood. It’s not a stretch to believe that a cop would needlessly murder a dog.

        What I’m saying is that given that a dog is a constantly armed weapon with a mind of it’s own, that can severely injure or kill in seconds, it’s not unfair for a cop to error on the side of caution and use deadly force to protect him/herself/others… depending on the circumstances.

        • Name calling and making false accusations on someone’s character based on a written blog is hardly something I would call constructive/fair criticism. My job is full of second guessing and Monday morning quarterbacks. I will be judged on what I did or did not do based on seconds not minutes to make a sound decision. I have bosses that keep my ego in place everyday, trust me.

          I appreciate everyones replies and posts. It makes me a better person and writer, thank you for giving your opinion.


        • Name calling and making false accusations on someone’s character based on a written blog is hardly something I would call constructive/fair criticism.

          I’m sorry but: “I would take the bite and look at the owner to remove his dog or cat before I’d even consider pulling my gun.” is pure ego. This is not “name calling” I just don’t believe that you’d sit idly by and “take it” while a dog mauls you. And you ignorance is shown by expecting that an owner would be able to stop the attack. You wrote it, either you stand by how you represented yourself in your writing or you don’t.

          Where did I make “false accusations”?


          My job is full of second guessing and Monday morning quarterbacks.

          As it should be. Cops are given a lot of power and the public trust is placed squarely on their shoulders. The public should be able to scrutinize the working actions of all public employees.

          The fact that this scrutiny seems to bother you (based on what you wrote and the way you wrote it) tells me that you’d rather no one look while you do your job… wonder why that is?

          I have bosses that keep my ego in place everyday, trust me.

          Oh, the police monitoring the police, what a great idea! Not. Sorry – I trust, but verify.

        • @AaronL

          Yes, I suppose having the audacity to criticize makes me a troll.

          Did both you and Christopher both not read the part where I defended cops using deadly force against dogs?

    • There is a difference between a dog that goes after a person and a dog that goes after another four legged creature. I have two coonhounds and I will tell that they are the most people friendly dogs you can imagine. My female would protect a stranger from harm and my male is sometimes afraid of his own shadow. However these dogs will shred any wildlife they can track down and get to. That’s what they have been bred to do. The police have no right to put down a dog that is not a threat to humans.

      Dogs in the country are a different matter. They will chase down and destroy livestock for the fun of it and I understand why a farmer would shoot a stray dog that is acting aggressively toward his animals. For the rest of us a dog is a predator that will hunt down the things we have taught them to, live with it.

    • Dog attacks can happen without notice or warning under calm conditions…

      So true. My bracelet style watch band has teeth mark dents where it fortunately saved my wrist from a dog bite. This dog was on a leash and I was just walking by on the sidewalk when it grabbed me. Henceforth unless I know the dog I keep well clear.

    • A dog maybe “always armed” with their teeth, but Homo sapiens sapiens are armed with the most formidable weapon in the animal kingdom-their brains. If only they choose to use it.

  2. Someone would have to break into my house and shoot my dog un-announced for me not to look at myself and think that maybe I did something wrong as an owner to cause this.
    Yes…she is a highly trained hunting dog, but she is also a very socialized family pet as well. That said….I am completely responsible for her behavior just as much as her well being. Even when I am not present, she is trained to listen to anyone who needs to control her.
    Your pal’s dog
    1. Bolted out the door.
    2. Broke free from a handler.
    3. Killed another person’s pet.
    I count 3 mistakes by the owner, your friend. If his dog was run over while he was on the loose, would it be the drivers fault or lack of training that led to his dog’s demise? The cops poor judgment is beside the point.

    • Jake, while you have valid points your hypothetical about a car has nothing to do with this particular story. Most people would agree that a loose dog causing a traffic accident would be the dog owner’s responsibility.

      Unfortunately many people on this overcrowded planet believe that any animal loose as a result of either #1 or 2 in your post deserves to be shot and killed on sight and tough cookies for the owners. This was not a gang bangers dog protecting a drug house. Simply killing another living being because you can is the lowest form of entertainment in the animal kingdom and an activity unique to us humans.

      On a blog like this the message that with power comes responsibility is constantly being hammered home. Yes the owners were in a position of power to prevent this incident, but the power of lethal force wielded by the police here trumps all, and it’s constantly being used erratically, even trivially, without repercussion.

      The type of ignorant cowardice displayed in this case, and characteristic of too many people in positions of power, will probably be responsible for the human race eventually annihilating itself. Then the rest of the life on this planet will be able to live in peace.

      • Point taken. Re-reading I see how I came off. I actually meant if the dog was run over by a car. Not the dog causing a traffic accident. Anyhow…Im a HUGE dog lover and even looking at the top photo turns my stomach. I am not one of the “many people on this overcrowded planet” that believe any animal loose as a result of either #1 or 2 in the post deserves to be shot and killed on sight and tough cookies for the owners.
        I also am not a fan of all the stuff I read/see/hear about police shooting anything first and asking questions later. Can they show ALOT more restraint where animals and people are concerned…yes. Can people look in the mirror and accept responsibility for more of the bad things that happen to them…Yes.

        • I wasn’t counting you among the quoted people. You seem from your post like a VERY responsible dog owner. Thanks for having an open mind and not blasting my aggressive post.

  3. It has happened that an officer shot a neighbors dog in my front yard. I was startled to hear a gunshot outside my house and decided for some reason to investigate without taking a pistol with me.
    An officer had driven his cruiser down down the block, had gotten out, and decided to kill a small dog in my yard. I was outside for the 2nd and 3rd shots of .40 cal to the 14 month old dog from down the street. The last one with the dog laying against the curb and leaving tissue, blood, and a .40 cal bullet in the brick street.
    The officer walked off to get on the radio leaving me to pet the dog while it died.
    Turns out the officer claimed he was in fear for his life. Then he claimed the dog was chasing an invisible person through the neighborhood.
    As if they were waiting, immediately after the shooting, a couple from down the block showed up with their baby in a stroller and were very happy the dog was dead since they lived next door to the neighbor with the dog that scared them and, I was later told, were related to the officer – who shot the dog during lunch hour when animal control was off duty to handle it otherwise.

  4. It’s funny how if you kill a a police dog, you get the book thrown at you, but if a cop kills your dog, you just get a “Whoops… Sorry ’bout that.”

  5. I’m on the fence on this one. I love my dogs like their a member of the family but I’m also very strict with them. When I give a command they listen. If you can’t control your dog then it’s a menace. With all due respect and condolences for his loss, if your friends dog had been properly raised and disciplined and therefore hadn’t run out of the yard OR chased and killed that cat, then he’d still be alive. If you can’t raise an obedient dog, you shouldn’t have one.
    Granted, I still think the cop over-reacted seeing as the dog was under control when he arrived on scene.

  6. I have taken a bite several times, 3 dogs and 2 cats. I’ve got the scars on arms and hands to show for it. I didn’t like. That said, I could take the bite again if necessary. One dog lived because he belonged to neighbors. The others weren’t so lucky. Taking the bite would be an option if I needed time to draw either gun or knife. Maybe that is just ego talking, huh?

    That said, I’ve seen several dog shootings by police that seemed to be over reactions as I knew the dogs and they were known to be friendly. In most of the cases the breed worked against the dogs as the police shot on sight.

  7. This unfortunately was my dog and he was a great family dog. I have had up to 6 dogs varying in size from a teacup Yokie to 3 Rottweilers, chickens and lizards. I now have 4 dogs since the recent shooting. I accept responsibility for my dog getting loose due to one of my 3 year old twins actions of opening a door. Yes, I also have 3 year old twins with these animals that we love like kids. I do not think any animal deserves to be mauled or killed or abused. Titan was the dog that was killed by the police department and I can honestly say that I have never seen him even growl or attempt to bite any human being. He even whined like a baby when he got his shots which always made us laugh. The only reason he was in our house was that he was allergic to grass, yes , grass. We have tried for a long time to cure this condition through medicine and food but to no avail. We made a decision to bring him in, instead of making him suffer with the skin condition. He was not able to wear a collar as it gave him rashes around his neck that would bleed. He would usually be outside with the bigger dogs as the little dogs we have (miniature pincher and yorkie) are inside. He even played well with the little ones as they would antagonize him with their barks and little bites. My kids would pull his tail and play with him until we noticed and would stop them but never once did he do anything. The only thing we ever worried about with Titan was his bad breath and his unstoppable licks, oh yeah and his fast wagging tail which had a little bump in it from birth which was the only reason his breeder did not show him like his parents. He was the true meaning of a family dog even more so that when we decided to bring him again and put our Rottweiler outside, I said, Titan? he provides no protection, he would lick a robber to death, he wouldnt even growl or bark.

    So to the day in question, we were at a local wedding on the East side of town where I was the best man. We got a call in the am saying he was loose, my wife and a friend had to go and help because I did not want to risk the groom stressing out and the baby sitter could obviously not leve our 3 years olds alone so there was a lag in time. Apparently he ran across a major road and a jogger saw him, Titan approached the jogger looking for help. The jogger proceeded to bring him in to his neighborhood to get a leash and find the owners. Titan also approached a Mother putting her child in a car and was labeled “people friendly” in the report. In between that time Titan was laying down waiting as I am sure he was tired. A stray cat crossed his path and he went running after it as all animals do to introduce themselves and curiosity. I am assuming the cat was startled or did not like what he saw or smelled or vice versa. A fight started and neighbors were gathered to try and stop this obvious mismatch and to stop the horrible possible outcome of either one getting seriously hurt or worse. Plantation police were called and showed up some time later, pulled up and shot Titan from behind and according to the report he turned and tried to bite her foot with no injuries. I am not sure about you or animals but I am pretty sure if someone shoots us or any animal they are going to turn around and not be happy, as for the biting of the foot with no injuries, I am thinking there might have been another animal present called a rat. Titan would get lizards, frogs and possums from time to time and be so proud that he would prance around for a few minutes ( I know it was disgusting to clean up) with them as he was a hunter and nothing me or police officers or training would do is going to stop that which is what I suspect happened that day, he was done with the cat and exploring his kill. I guess the cliche comes to mind of two wrongs dont make a right. The other interesting part is, we had to wait 72 hours for a police report but you know the police were at my door not once, but twice to issue my citation the next day which I have 10 days to pay. We also were told that we could not take him because they needed to do an autopsy which they are trying to charge us for. Our worse fear is obviously any of our dogs biting any one, including animals but I believe there is a huge difference between the two when it comes to shooting them and if in the end the animal needs to be put down then so be it, but I don’t think the officer should make that decision on the spot unless it was to preserve human life.

    We obviously know that none of this will make Titan come back but we wish to educate and hopefully change the way these situations are handled by officers. I do not envy the positions they are in on a daily basis at all and I respect what they do. I just feel that humans are humans and animals are animals. We are very close in relation but need to be treated much different. I watch tv shows and I know several officers and I see stun guns used all of the time. Why was this not an option? Why was animal control not called? Why would an officer feel it is safer to fire her weapon not once, but twice in an open residential area with many innocent bystanders over a dog/cat fight? I am not pretending to know what that situation is like, nor do I want to, but as mentioned above by a real officer, there is no formal training to deal with this and his judgement call would have been different. Is there any questions or disclosures about childhood or events that has happened with animals in the past that would sway judgement? We would like to change the procedure so this does not happen to families. We have our kids asking “Where is Titan” and not to mention my poor wife who could not get out of the car and she is a super strong woman. I hope no one else experiences this helplessness that we feel.

    I do not write on blogs usually, but I felt compelled to tell our story for Titan. I will be contacting some commissioners and/or legislators to put end to this animal abuse.

  8. It seems that I read about the police shooting a dog that was not acting in a threatening manner every week. I’m having trouble seeing a valid excuse for that.

  9. I’ve trained thousands of dogs, individually, in teams and in classes, for everything from housebreaking and basic obedience to field trials, tracking, retrieving, perimeter protection and attack work (I owned and operated a large dog training school before I decided to try my hand at law). While any dog can bite, and even a poodle bite can be exremely serious, I’ve only come across a couple of dogs who were truly dangerous.

    There may be a lot of reasons why cops shoot dogs, but I’m betting that the number one reason is lack of training. Police just don’t know how to handle an animal that looks like trouble. Unfortunately, municipal budgets being what they are, officers will never receive the necessary training and animals will continue to be needlessly shot. And government being government, the owners can expect a bill for the bullet.

  10. Take a bite? what a joke. I live in a large metro area were people are killed by dogs every year. drug delalers love a big bakd dog. protection whithout the possibility of a “felon in possesion ” charge . but they get loose and are dangerous .

  11. Chris, your heart is in the right place, but while you can take a bite, you can’t take an attack. There’s a big difference. Most dogs bite with their front teeth. It hurts, but the wound is not deep. Facial bites, even with only the front teeth, are all whole different matter, as Adam has stated.

    Some dogs bite with a full mouth, hold and shake. Believe me when I tell you that a large, strong animal with a full bite is capable of causing extraordinary damage, or even killing a grown man rapidly. I once trained a Rottweiler for attack work who was able to bite through a chrome leather training sleeve. His bite force was so crushing that my forearm lost feeling for several minutes. That dog (who was actually a sweetheart when he wasn’t working) was more than capable of snapping bones like twigs. Later, I tried to pound a nail through the sleeve with a hard strike from a framing hammer, and I couldn’t.

    The answer isn’t taking a bite. The answer is bite avoidance. With training, almost all bites can be avoided. Attacks are a whole different beast, but fortunately most family pet dogs won’t attack. I trained guard dogs. My company had to look long and hard to find mentally sound animals who would actually attack, yet also be good family dogs. Most dogs just like people too much to want to hurt them.

      • One of the things edited out in this piece from my most respected Editor RF, is the fact, I work with K9 to learn more about handling dogs. I make sure the officers I train spend time with the K9 handler to understand what is going on.

  12. Chris, I would suggest that you send your friend a sympathy card. Let him know that you feel for his loss. No need to mention your uniform; he’ll get that. He’ll also get that his friend feels for him. Later, when the time is right, you can talk more about his cause and how to move forward with it.

  13. The Fact is, animals are killed or injured, human beings are killed or injured, constantly these days by over-jealous “officers”, because they are being taught that THEY are the ultimate AUTHORITY- that it’s US vs THEM, that if THEY encounter RESISTANCE to THEIR AUTHORITY, it must be met with OVERWHELMING FORCE, and for which there will seldom be any real accountability.
    All my life I have respected and even admired Cops- They were once fair and reasonable in the execution of their job-no more. On the whole, I now fear and will avoid ANY contact with Law Enforcement.
    I am not alone.

  14. I agree with you Christopher. I would rather be bitten then shoot a dog unless absolutely necessary(dog bites are not the same as dog “attacks” and a dog barking is not a “dog attack”). I think Adam is greatly over stating the threat of most dogs when it comes to killing humans.

    I will also say that the it seems police officers are becoming more afraid to handle things without a gun. When you need 5 officers with tasers to restrain a single individual or you feel the only way to restrain a dog is through deadly force I think there something fundementally wrong with either training or physical requirments.

    In terms of dogs, I think it’s absurd that some people think they should be able to walk up to any dog and have it immeaditly roll over for them. Both me and my dogs will bark to warn people from entering our space and do more if someone pushes themselves on us. As a rule of thumb, don’t do something to a random dog that you wouldn’t do to a random person.

  15. Simply put: if a cop comes on my property with the intent to kill ANYTHING, with or without warrant, he isn’t leaving on his feet. The whole “theres only a few rotten apples” argument doesn’t apply here. I have had it with cops and the power that they think they somehow have earned by going through some course taught by other cops. A cop killing a family pet cannot be tolerated by the public, and the only recourse this society has left us with is the 2A.

  16. Every police offer should spend some time training with a K-9 team. Work as a training helper, take bites, handle dogs, work obedience, play with dogs, feed and water them…

    Heck, the K-9 guys need more people to take bites from their dogs. Help them out. They more types of people the better. If you can pass for a 15-year old gangster with a gun, go take some bites. If you can pass for a 45-year old manic woman with a gun and off her meds, go help them out.

    Honestly, most cops are stupid, when it comes to dogs. I even meet K-9 guys that are pretty ignorant. They don’t start out as dogmen and get the job. They get the job because they are good cops and can beat out the others on the qual tests. Everybody wants the extra pay and the take-home patrol car.

    Learn to handle working dogs and you will learn to read dogs, have confidence in dealing with them, and won’t deal with situations from fear. Understand when the dog is reacting in fear, which is most of the time. 99% of dogs can be scared away by a threatening person that knows how to project dominance. As another poster said, I’d rather get bit first before reacting with violence. I’ve been bit by shepards, rotties, bulldogs, pitbulls, and little fluffy white dogs. It can hurt, but a couple of puncture wounds won’t kill you. You can always control where the dog will bite you. I would take my bite to control the head, and then shoot it, if I head to.

  17. Being a heavily armed nut job like myself has some advantages and one of them is the ability to seek and to get revenge. Murder my dog and I will murder you regardless of the consequences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *