Austin Police Revise Policy on Use of Lethal Force on Dogs After April Puppycide Drew National Attention

In April, Austin police officer Thomas Griffin shot and killed Cisco, a pet blue heeler. As is often the case in these kinds of incidents, the officer was at the wrong home. After barking orders at the panicked homeowner, the police officer shot the dog despite being told the dog was harmless, according to Michael Paxton, the homeowner.

Now, because of the national attention the incident drew, the Austin Police Department is revising its rules of engagements on dogs. From KUT News in Austin:

“Before an officer takes action, there needs to be an imminent threat of bodily injury,” [Austin Police Department Chief of Staff David] Carter says, “whereas in the past, it would describe that the animal was dangerous.” Additionally, officers would need to “justify the position of using a firearm, versus using some other method to repel a dog, if that’s necessary. For example using a nightstick, or chemical spray, or a tazer, or some other thing such as that.”  Additional responsibility now also falls on the officer’s supervisor to investigate such shootings, instead of having the officer self-report on the circumstances of the shooting.

As the commentariat here often notes, our brave postal workers enter backyards and engage with America’s dogs every day and incidents are rare. Puppycide by cops, on the other hand, seems to happen much more often.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Jesus Christ, what was the policy before? Fire away, apparently.

  • RBS||

    I don't really see how this new policy changes anything. I mean it's not hard to imagine a cop fearing immediate bodily injury and shooting the dog because that was the quickest/safest method of protecting himself.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You're thinking this is just to shut the mouths of pet owners (or, hell, property owners) outraged over the incident? Sounds plausible, I suppose.

  • RBS||

    Given the prevalence of these shootings, I think something else needs to change, possibly training wise. Not just changing the policy from fire at will to fire if you think you are about to be harmed. And yes, I do think this is partially to get the people to shut up.

  • R C Dean||

    I don't really see how this new policy changes anything.

    Me neither. The dog-killers will just recite the new magic words, and their drinking buddies will conduct the usual "thin blue line" investigation.

    What's embarassing, as Fist notes, is just how weak it was before. Apparently, any dog shooting was OK as long as the cop who pulled the trigger said "dangerous dog" in his report.

  • RBS||

    magic words

    Exactly. I see this everyday. Once the police learn how to say the right words every report reads the same and everything becomes ok because they used the magic words.

  • ||

    "Stop biting!" will become the new "stop resisting" for dog encounters.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    A policy revision like this, by the way, is cravenly in lieu of an admission of wrongdoing.

  • Aresen||

    Our Noble Guardians Of The Public can do no wrong.

  • Aresen||

    "Additional responsibility now also falls on the officer’s supervisor to investigate prepare the cover story on such shootings


  • French Fries||

    "Additional responsibility now also falls on the officer’s supervisor to investigate such shootings, instead of having the officer self-report on the circumstances of the shooting."

    Internal investigations?


  • BoscoH||

    Good thing Balko took that gig with HuffPo. At the rate these needed police policy reforms are going, he'd be starving by mid-August.

  • NoVAHockey||

    if the dog is injured, releasing any details apparently would be a HIPAA violation.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    That's between the dog and his/her Veterinarian, yes.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    All five of my dogs say, "FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKIN' PRICKS!"

    Actually, they're just wagging their tails and panting cause it's so damned hot and hoping I'll open the Magic Door (pantry) to release the Treats.

    They wouldn't swear at anyone. Me on the other hand -FUCK YOU, PIG FUCKING MOTHERFUCKING DOG-SHOOTING COP DICKFACES - FUCK YOU!

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    deerrrrrrrrp-feee...oh deerrrrrrpppppppheeeee

    * lights the dunphy signal *

  • ChicagoTom||

    So now we will here a lot more cops yelling "It's coming right for us!!" before they shoot your dog.


  • Lost_In_Translation||

    Here's an idea. Police get 6 rounds of ammunition a year. Once you're out, that's it. Choose wisely.

  • Bill||

    Oh sure! Now you have something nice to say about the postal service.

  • Flyboy||

    "Congratulations, Mr. Postman! You're more competent than the average cop!"

  • ||

    Which is specifically why I bought two of the largest dogs I could possibly get. Unless it's a really lucky shot, one (or two) 9mm isn't going to bring down my big boys (200+ lbs).

    And one of them is named Gojira : )

  • ||

    Who was that kid in New York the cops fired 70 or so rounds into? I don't see any way a cop won't unload the whole clip into your dogs.

    As soon as they figure out the gene sequencing, my dogs are going to demand the ability to grow kevlar fur.

  • ||

    Oh no, I fully expect them to try to unload a clip. But unlike a kid, a charging dog won't give them the chance. I figure time for maybe three or four shots from the time they start running, not necessarily all good hits, and with 350 lbs of dogs bearing down on you, one, if not both of them, are going to get to you.

  • ||

    Perhaps you could start your own dog army.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Holy shit! My "big" Lab is 94 lbs now (down from ~130 - he's much healthier).

    200+ - that's a LOT of dog!

  • ||

    Yep, I have a 200 lbs English mastiff and a 150 lbs Tibetan mastiff.

    And I'm wanting to get a Caucasian Ovcharka, too, but I don't think I can convince my wife.

  • Ice Nine||


  • ||

    Um, my wife is Chinese, so it's pronounced lacist, you insensitive bastard!

  • Ice Nine||

    I stand collected.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    COLL...oh, you got it.

    Never mind.

  • Brett L||

    I had a nice session with a 160lb English mastiff in the bar a couple of weeks ago. He did whatever he wanted and I patted his head when it bumped me. I feel like I was the winner there.

  • R||

  • ||

    Hilarious. I emailed this to everybody I know (who gives a damn about this sort of thing).

  • RFID||

    Is that pitbull on the top middle wearing a bulletproof vest? Sounds like a good thing to outfit your dog with.

  • R||

    Not sure what it is; I didn't really pay much attention to where I grabbed the image from. I was just looking for dogs that leaned more towards "adorable" than "scary".

  • Cytotoxic||

    I laughed and then stopped laughing and thought of the story again and then I was angry.

  • DantoRang||

    Dude does seem to know what is going on man. Wow.

  • entropy||

    Jesus, it's gotten so bad they're making the post office seem good.

  • CE||

    How about prosecuting police officers who invade the wrong house?

    Breaking and entering
    Assault with a deadly weapon
    Destruction of property
    Cruelty to animals

    Yeah, "mistakes" happen, but that doesn't mean they should get a free pass.


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