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.