Police Abuse

It's Time for Cops to Stop Shooting Dogs

Another day, another horrific story about the police killing a beloved family pet.

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The sheriff's department in Prince Edward Co., Virginia, isn't returning phone calls about Party. No great surprise. A deputy shot the dog in late June, killing it. The department issued a CYA press release, then dummied up—perhaps in the hope the whole thing would blow over.

No wonder: According to a news account, the deputy went to the home of Stephen Carwile to serve a paper in a non-criminal matter. The family wasn't home. The department's press release says the deputy "was charged by a vicious dog." That would be Party—a Golden Retriever. We all know how vicious that breed is. The release says the dog "lunged at [the deputy] so he fired his weapon as required by training."

Golden retrievers aren't the only vicious breed, apparently. Just ask Craig Jones, the owner of Arfee. Jones, a Colorado resident, had gone to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, last month upon the death of his mother. One morning he went to a coffee shop and left Arfee, a 2-year-old black Labrador, in his van with the window open halfway. Someone thought the van was suspicious and called the police. An officer arrived. The dog barked, so the officer shot him through the window. The department then labeled Arfee a "vicious pit bull."

Maybe we need a new dictionary entry: "Vicious dog, n.: Any dog shot by a law-enforcement officer."

Carwile and Jones were fortunate enough not to see their dogs get gunned down. Nicole Echlin and her 6-year-old daughter weren't so lucky. A few days ago their year-old shepherd mix, Apollo, got loose. Officers from the Hometown, Illinois, police department found the dog in Echlin's yard just as Echlin and her daughter were returning home themselves. Before Echlin could coax the dog inside, an officer shot it in the head.

At least that story has a silver lining: Chief Charles Forsyth promptly fired him.

It would be nice to call these isolated incidents. Unfortunately, they are anything but. Police officers shoot dogs with dismaying regularity. The story about Apollo ran on July 28. The next day The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported: "A DeKalb County police officer resigned Monday after coming under fire for shooting a resident's German shepherd and then blocking the owner from taking the dog to the vet. Doctor, a 9-year-old family pet, surprised Officer David Anthony Pitts who had come to the house on Mary Lou Lane near Decatur on Thursday because of a false alarm. The officer shot the dog in the face."

The same day, a Texas paper reported that a resident of Cedar Park, an Austin suburb, had called police to report a wandering pit bull: "According to police, when the officer arrived on the scene, the dog began walking toward the officer, and that's when he pulled his weapon and shot the dog twice."

A couple of weeks ago in Minneapolis, officers were chasing a teenager who had crashed a car. When they encountered Paul Trott's Italian mastiffs, Tito and Vita, they opened fire, killing Tito. This spring Redford Township, Michigan, police officers who were chasing a suspect entered a couple's back yard and shot a 10-month-old puppy. The shooter said the dog was in the way.

Too often, incidents such as these lead to pro forma investigations that find the officer followed policy, or was defending himself—and there the matter ends. In June, the Maldonado family of Hammond, Indiana, "was cooking in the backyard with their dog Lily playing outside," reported KMSP-TV. An officer responding to reports of a loose pit bull showed up—and shot the dog. "A statement from the police determined the officer was defending himself from Lily," the story concluded.

If the U.S. were overrun by dangerous dogs, you would think we'd hear a lot more about a biting epidemic. Yet postal workers, meter readers and pizza deliverymen—among others—all manage to do their jobs without either getting maimed by pets or killing them. It seems awfully curious that police officers seem to be the only ones who face such a stark either/or.

No wonder public outrage over such incidents has been growing—you can find plenty of it all over social media. After an officer was cleared in a shooting earlier this year in Filer, Idaho, local residents launched a recall campaign against the mayor and the city council. Colorado has passed a law requiring all police officers to receive training on how to deal with domestic animals. Here in Virginia, Henrico's police department offers video instruction on dealing with pets. And the Richmond Police Department has just partnered up with the SPCA to teach officers how to read dog behavior in order to prevent harm—either to the policemen or to the animals.

Arlington, Texas, provided some similar training that already has paid off in a big way. After residents reported seeing a "vicious" pit bull roaming about in June, Sgt. Gary Carter investigated and found the dog was simply lost—and quite friendly. He took it to a local animal shelter, which reunited the dog, named Jeffrey, with his owner. The story went viral; the department's Facebook post about it alone has more than 12 million visitors and more than 177,000 likes. Sure beats fielding hate mail after a shooting, doesn't it?

Eventually Jeffrey's owners decided they didn't want him, and they surrendered him to the animal shelter. The person who ended up adopting him? Sgt. Carter. "Maybe people can realize, first of all, that not all big dogs are dangerous," he told a local TV station. "And second of all, that not all police officers are out to shoot big dogs, because we're not." 

True. Cops aren't bad people. Most of them love animals as much as the next guy. But it's clear many of them still need more tools to help them deal with family pets. And eventually, most law-enforcement agencies probably will provide them.

But given the slow pace of reform, it looks like a lot more dogs are going to die first.

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  1. Hate pets and people who treat them like people, but no reason why some pepper spray wouldn’t solve the problem.

    1. I bet you are fun at parties

      1. Well someone has to polish Warty’s various leather implements.

        1. True, it is a loveless job, but someone has to do it.

    2. Said it before and said it again. The cop that shoots my yellow lab will die.

      1. Second on that…

    3. I don’t treat my pets like people – most people are awful.

  2. olorado has passed a law requiring all police officers to receive training on how to deal with domestic animals.

    If you are hiring people who don’t know how to deal with one of the most common domesticated animals on the planet, you are hiring the wrong people.

    1. If you are hiring people who don’t know how to deal with one of the most common domesticated animals on the planet, you are hiring the wrong people.

      The police are dealing with dogs the way the government wants them to, to kill them and instill fear into the peasants.

      1. Fuck you libertarians! Do you have any idea how many officers are viciously mauled each year by dogs? MILLIONZ

        1. LOL

          BBBillions and BBBillions and BBBillions!

        2. By ‘mauled’ do you mean covered in BBQ sauce?

    2. Training is nice.

      What is needed are swift and very painful consequences. And those are nowhere in view.

      So, nothing will change. Silence is acceptance is acquiescence is support, so until we start working the other side of the Iron Law, we won’t get the results we want.

      You get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.

      1. The best you can hope for so long as we have public law and qualified immunity

        At least that story has a silver lining: Chief Charles Forsyth promptly fired him.

        The worst part is that when people hear about cops getting fired for their transgressions they nod in affirmation that justice was done. But would anyone offer the same affirmation if an employee at McDonald’s was fired from his job as the extent of his punishment for the same crime?

        1. We lived right next door to a wife beater cop (a detective no less) and after the problem got too big to ignore the department just quietly let him go. Next thing you know he’s working for the PD in the next town over. Regardless of whether these guys quit or are fired, they never have any trouble getting another cop job so I’m not impressed at all by a firing.

          1. Even if they received a lifetime ban from working in any PD, that would still only be addressing the issue of preventing likely future transgressions and does not address at all the criminal actions he took while wearing a badge.

      2. Anytime it wouldn’t be OK for me to shoot a dog under the same circumstances, it shouldn’t be OK for a cop to do it and they should face the same consequences I (or a mailman or meter reader or any other non-cop) would.

  3. Maybe we need a new dictionary entry: “Vicious dog, n.: Any dog shot by a law-enforcement officer.

    This goes along nicely with the military’s verbiage: Terrorist, n: Any person killed in a drone bombing.

  4. Cops aren’t bad people[1]. Most of them love animals as much as the next guy.[2]

    1. Citation Needed.

    2. Citation Needed.

    Both are unproven statements not borne out by the evidence at hand.

    1. He’s tried to persuade, not preach to the choir. Cut the kid a break.

      1. Persuasion requires more supporting evidence.

        1. Or at least an argument. Which he didn’t make, he gave assertions with no argument.

    2. Well, fact is that most cops don’t shoot any dogs unnecessarily during their careers and probably love animals at a similar rate to people in general.
      It does happen too often, but the problem is with the immunity and special treatment they get and the cop culture that tells them that the most important thing is that they never be exposed to any danger.

      I do question “cops are not bad people”, though. Until they start policing their own a whole lot more vigorously I will not be convinced of that.

  5. Why is it, asks A. Barton Hinkle, that postal workers, meter readers, and pizza deliverymen?among others?all manage to do their jobs without either getting maimed by pets or killing them?

    This is pretty easy.

    1. They aren’t all hopped up on donuts and steroids.

    2. They don’t carry guns to work and have a license to shoot anyone or anything that they want to without any accountability at all.

    1. 3. Those other job categories aren’t so attractive to psychopaths.

    2. If the dogs didn’t want to die they shouldn’t have lived with drug dealers, back yard BBQ’ers, parking violators, and coffee shop customers.

  6. Cops shoot dogs as a display of power. They know how much it will hurt the owner, and they know the owner can’t do anything about it. They’d murder children as a display of power if they could get away with it.

    1. Bingo

    2. They’d murder children as a display of power if they could get away with it.

      May occur more often as cops are discovering they can get away with that too

    3. So far they can only reliably get away with setting them on fire.

      1. Or throwing a Flashbang into their crib.

    4. They murder children all the time! How many stories have you read about a cop shooting a kid because he mistook a toy gun for a real one?

      I have a CCW but not a badge. If I did the same thing and used the same justification I’d be rightly be incarcerated by state if not justifiably murdered by angry townsfolk. But with cops everyone looks at it like it were a blameless tragedy instead of an intolerable crime. Or even better it becomes the kid’s fault or his parents fault. Placing state agents in a separate moral categories with different rules and thresholds for acceptability is the foundation upon which all other statist ideas are built.

      1. How many stories have you read about a cop shooting a kid because he mistook a toy gun for a real one?

        Those are few and far between.

        I have a CCW but not a badge.

        So you went and asked permission like a good peasant? Some anarchist you are.

        1. Those are few and far between.

          If by few and far you mean relatively common, then yes. I wonder if we add up all the times a child has shot a cop versus the number of times cops have shot children, which group would have the most innocent blood to account for.

          So you went and asked permission like a good peasant? Some anarchist you are.

          You’ve really got my number now, Sarc. I also pay taxes and have a driver’s license so as to avoid prison. Of course everyone knows real anarchists have mohawks and ride around in dune buggies raping and pillaging with a merry band of outlaws.

          Some rational thinker you are.

          1. If by few and far you mean relatively common, then yes.

            No, I mean few and far between. As in a couple times a year, if that.

            I wonder if we add up all the times a child has shot a cop versus the number of times cops have shot children, which group would have the most innocent blood to account for.

            Obviously the cops have more blood on their hands. Not just the blood of children. The blood of anyone who fails to obey.

            You’ve really got my number now, Sarc.

            I’m teasing you. Take a sedative.

            1. I didn’t detect a tease, sorry. You keep me on my toes from one day to the next. I’m never sure when to expect friendly disagreement or sarcasmic antipathy.

              1. Antipathy? Dude… you think I’ve got a problem with anarchists. I don’t. I think it’s a bit naive to believe that a stateless society can exist for any length of time before a group of men uses organized violence as license to steal under the guise of taxation, but I don’t dislike you for it.

                1. Before 1776: “I don’t. I think it’s a bit naive to believe that a monarch-less society can exist for any length of time”

                  To many, being an anarchist is not consequential but deontological.

                  1. Before 1776: “I don’t. I think it’s a bit naive to believe that a monarch-less society can exist for any length of time”

                    Um, no. All I said is that there will always be a group of men who will use organized violence as a license to steal. Call it a monarchy, call it warlords, call it tribal leaders, call it a republic, call it a democracy, call it whatever. But you can’t escape it. Death and taxes.

                    1. Slavery was once considered a permanent fixture of human society. Nothing is certain but the empirical and moral value of freedom.

                2. Antipathy? Dude… you think I’ve got a problem with anarchists. I don’t. I think it’s a bit naive to believe that a stateless society can exist for any length of time before a group of men uses organized violence as license to steal under the guise of taxation, but I don’t dislike you for it.

                  Historically it hasn’t taken much heated debate before you start directing insults towards me instead of the argument. I’m sure you disagree with that assessment but nevermind.

                  I think it’s naive to think that an institution financed by a monopoly tax racket is not just best suited to deliver products but that it’s the only option for producing the most important products of civilization. I think it’s prudent to move into a production method for this product that’s more refined than this old fashioned state system.

                  1. I think it’s naive to think that an institution financed by a monopoly tax racket is not just best suited to deliver products but that it’s the only option for producing the most important products of civilization.

                    I never said it’s the best or only option. I said it’s inevitable.

  7. It’s the same old story: one bad apple ruins the bunch. Dog shooting cops are the exception, but they tarnish the reputation of the brand.
    Also, when there is an “investigation” that ends with a lame excuse for the behavior, it not only further erodes respect but also supports the continuation of similar actions.
    Let’s remember that the cop is a man acting as a cop. The man is responsible for his actions and the man must be held accountable. A simple claim (not a complaint), in a court of record, for trespass (destruction of property) will do the trick. The man is then personally liable and cannot rely on any assumed or implied immunities and cannot hide behind lawyers supplied by his company.
    Furthermore, any cops, whether peer or superior, who support or don’t actively condemn those actions are equally, though not lawfully, guilty.

    1. Dog shooting cops are the exception

      Curse my eyes, I first read that as “dogs shooting cops” and wondered if you had links to the story.

      1. You know the old saying right?

        “When a cop shoots a dog, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a dog shoots a cop, that is news.”

    2. One bad apple, isolated incident, new professionalism, not the norm, outliers…

      Right.

      1. It’s just that 95% of cops give the rest a bad name.

    3. If dog shooting cops are the exception, why the F*CK does their command structure tend to defend them? If there were widespread terminations (job terminations, but in some cases terminating with extreme prejudice wouldn’t be totally out of place) after these tragedies, I would agree that the cops are exceptions. But “they were following procedure” argues that they aren’t exceptions.

      1. If dog shooting cops are the exception, why the F*CK does their command structure tend to defend them?

        Because that’s their job. They don’t climb the ranks by ratting out bad cops. They climb the ranks by overlooking unlawful behavior. That’s how they gain the trust of their fellow bad cops.

      2. If dog shooting cops are the exception, why the F*CK does their command structure tend to defend them?

        Because that’s what they always do. I have no idea if anyone has tried to compile any numbers on it, but I would be amazed if more than 5% or so of police have ever killed a pet animal.

        I really don’t think it helps here to make out as if all cops favor killing every dog that looks at them funny. The problem is the level of immunity they get and the cop culture that tries to protect the “brothers in blue” no matter what they do.

    4. 99.9% of cops gives the .1% a bad name.

      1. unfortunately, depending on where you live, this might not be far off.

        1. It takes a certain species of shitbag to be a cop. It’s not a stretch that the vast majority of them are shitbags.

    5. one bad apple ruins the bunch.

      At this point, given our militarized tribal cop culture, I think its more like dropping a few good apples into a barrel of bad ones.

      1. Cop was shot in the Twin Cities a few days ago. His funeral was today. Thousands of uniformed cops attended. Bet they all got paid.

  8. Knowing a cop or two, I can tell you the problem comes from the attitude of “I don’t take itshay from anyone”. Cops now are not the smiling officer in the comics that made you want to be one.

    They are under siege by constant warnings, memos, and training videos of crime and criminals waiting behind bushes “to take them out”. Every “contact” – gang banger or civilian is treated as possible ticket to the graveyard.

    One solution to the “entry refusal problem” is to use SWAT to wait our a suspect, rather than be seen as an expedient way to “end it” to cut overtime.

    Dogs, by the way, are the one “citizen” that doesn’t respond to a badge or a SWAT team. We should be more like them. “Rover” knows who’s turf he is on – his. Not yours, officer. He knows you should not be there. He’s read the constitution, sort of.

    We have processes and procedures that allow citizen vs law enforcement contact to take place without mayhem and bloodshed as “plan B”.

    So what are the police agencies doing about it? Buying armored vehicles from the military to intimidate citizens. Rights are for courtrooms, not the jungle they live in.

    1. Interestingly however, being a cop is not statistically one of the more dangerous occupations.

      1. Cops have a lower on the job mortality rate than sanitation workers.

        1. Even when they do die its in a car collision.

          So its their own I am invincible attitude and joy riding that kills them not criminals (or citizens)

          1. All the local cops where I live are shitty drivers. Try following one sometime. And start counting all the traffic violations.

            1. They don’t violate traffic laws because they are shitty drivers. They violate them because they know they can do it with impunity.

              1. That is very true.

        2. Maybe that should change.

  9. But it’s clear many of them still need more tools to help them deal with family pets.

    I got zero training on dealing with dogs before I started delivering pizza. Somehow managed to get through a couple of years of it with all my limbs intact and no wounded animals. Maybe cops need training on how to act like a non-retarded human.

    1. Take away their weapons and give them unlimited personal liability (both civil and criminal) for their actions.

      They’d shape up real fast.

  10. This is today’s cop-shoots-dog story, right?

  11. I don’t know if it was necessary for reason to include in the teaser for this article that picture of a pit bull ready to pounce.

  12. Apparently, kittens can be shot as well:

    http://rt.com/usa/cop-accorti-…..oting-669/

    The kittens were not attacking but it appears that law enforcement is an equal opportunity executioner.

    1. “An Ohio policeman shot to death a litter of kittens on Wednesday, telling a group of screaming children that the animals would be going to “kitty heaven”.”

      I’m imagining he did so in his best Clint Eastwood-voice

    2. If some cop shot any of my pets I would ensure a gruesome end for that cop.

    3. What the fucking fuck?! I don’t even…

      RAGE. TAKING. OVER!

    4. Dante has a special circle of hell for people who kill kittens. I wish this “humane” officer to retire promptly to said circle.

  13. kittens can be shot as well:

    Their teeth are incredibly sharp. Why take chances?

  14. Police work attracts sadistic scumbags.

    1. Perhaps we should train pets to fire at cops. Nothing would stop the murder of innocent animals faster than teaching pets to shoot the police in the face with a bazooka.

      1. The lack of opposable digits is a bit of a roadblock though.

  15. I used to work a summer job with a guy who later moved to Atlanta and became a police officer. He visited a year or so later and told the story that the night shifts used to have competitions who could shoot the most stray dogs. They would drop them off in the parking lot of some big box/grocery type store. He said once one I the police officers shot one that had a collar and leash on it. Something about an alleyway and the dog silhouetted. He shot it thinking it was stray. But it’s owner was waking it. When gunning down stray dogs in public is thought of as doing a civic duty it isn’t hard to see how shooting owned pets isn’t thought of as a big deal.

  16. PoliceOne posters find that shooting dogs helps them with their Erectile Dysfunction.

  17. ABH: Thanks for including the control population of pizza, postal etc. delivery personnel who have no issue with dogs. Excellent point! Apparently it is indeed just the cops who have issues…. or perhaps are unhinged.

  18. Amazing how many people don’t know one breed from the next (and not just cops, if their statements are to be believed); my neighbor upon meeting our dog for the first time asked if ‘he’ was a pitbull. Well, yes, *she* is indeed about that size, and has various different colors and patches here and there, but no, she is not a pitbull. I then explained the (significant) behavioral differences between a pitbull and a beagle why said dog busied herself trying to find a rabbit that must have been hanging out thereabouts.

  19. “not all police officers are out to shoot big dogs”

    But that’s the way to bet.

  20. He
    Shot
    A
    Golden
    Retriever…

    If that ever happens to my dog, the cop better run as fast as he can, immediately jump into a car, and drive to an airport. Then he better buy a one way ticket to Nepal and live in the Himalayas for the rest of his natural life.

    Why? Because that’s his only chance to hide from my wrath.

    What is wrong with people that they don’t defend their animals? Seriously, is all that estrogen I hear about in the water turning me into wimpering 7 year old girls?

    1. *”me” should be “them”

    2. I’m with you. Lots of pussies masquerading as men these days – and a whole lot of them wear uniforms.

    3. “What is wrong with people that they don’t defend their animals?”

      People don’t defend their pets, or retaliate against cops who harm their pets, because they — and the cops — know there is no recourse. They cannot use force, due to threat of arrest and injury/death. They have no legal means, because an internal investigation will “reveal” the cop acted within the rules.

  21. What astonished me is that so few of these incidents result in the cops being assaulted, mauled, or shot.

  22. I think this happens a lot during drug busts too. Lots of canine casualties in the drug war.

  23. Someone busybody cunt who couldn’t mind their own fucking business thought the van was suspicious and called the police armed steroid infused barely trained apes.

    FTFY.

  24. Cops aren’t bad people.

    [Citation needed]

    There may be some who aren’t bad people, but I suspect that at least a significant plurality are.

  25. When cops shoot dogs, they’re just dealing with them the best way they know how.

    I mean, if you’re dealing with a person, you can yell orders at them. You can threaten them with violence if they don’t obey. If they continue disobeying, you can beat the shit out of them and drive them to jail or a hospital.

    With a dog, you can’t yell orders at them. You can’t threaten them with violence. If you try to beat them up and arrest them, they can either run away or kick your ass.

    So, there’s only one place they know where to go: side arm.

    Really, they blame the dog owners for having dogs. They should know better than to own an animal that can’t obey the police.

    1. If that’s the best they know – they should be fired. And institutionalized. Because they’re too severely retarded to be allowed out in society without supervision.

      You’ve got a pig festooned with all manner of gadgets – pepper spray, tasers, night stick – and the only thing he can think of is “shoot the dog”?

      Forget the dog? if you shoot MY dog, you better beware of owner!

  26. How did shooting dogs become standard police procedure in the first place?

  27. If a citizen shoots your dog he is likely charged with animal cruelty, a felony. When cops face that charge as well as mandatory incarceration this crap will stop.

    1. More directly, owners of dogs killed by cops should simply shoot the cop.

      They’ll learn.

  28. Wow. I can’t believe how even libertarians can drink the media kool-aid about “vicious breeds.”

    As a pit bull owner I often have to deal with ignorant people who don’t trust “some breeds.”

    The American Temperament Testing Society has found that pit bulls test out slightly better than golden retrievers, which score quite well.

    There are no “vicious breeds.” There are individual dogs, who are vicious, either because they are genetically defective, were abused or incompetently socialized.

    So it does not matter if the cop shot a golden retriever or a pit bull.

    My question is why, if no one was home was the dog out where it could possibly charge a stranger in its yard? That is owner negligence.

    1. Agreed. They just look scarier

    2. You’re basically right about the breeds issue, but you are completely off base on the “if a dog is in your yard it’s okay for a cop to shoot it”.

      That’s crap.

      If the dog is in your yard, the cop better damned well leave it alone. To do otherwise is COP NEGLIGENCE.

  29. Mailmen, meter readers, cable guy, electric guy, phone guy, door-to-door sales, petition circulator, religious marketers, neighbors, kids, firemen, ambulance drivers, Fed-ex, UPS, landscaper, etc. all have ways of going on private property without being attacked.

    I used to be a cable guy. My clip-board and work boots were enough to stop every dog that got too close in an aggressive manner. 8-10 times a day I was in peoples yards, often when people weren’t home (easement laws allow this). Even shutting off people’s cable for non-payment wasn’t an issue.

    Shooting dogs just tells me that cops are bigger pussies than all of the people listed above.

  30. The cops need more incentive to encourage them to use other methods when dealing with dogs? such as backing away or using “less than lethal” tools.

    Perhaps the most effective way to discourage cops from shooting dogs is this: If a cop shoots your dog – shoot the cop.

  31. “It’s Time for Cops to Stop Shooting Dogs”

    No, it is time, as pointed out in the article, to train officers in how to read animal behavior and ways to try to calm the animal down. The use of force, including lethal force, to protect the officer and others still needs to be an option.

  32. I rode electric bicycles in a rural area a few years back where dogs were free to give chase. Twice I was accosted by aggressive and impressively vicious dogs. Pepper spray turned many dogs; unless breezy on the 3rd spray or so one dog just dodged the spray.

    Don’t cops carry pepper spray?

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