ASPCA: Most Instances of Police Shooting Dogs are Avoidable

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Maddie

It seems that every other day we see a story about police shooting a family dog.  Not a vicious dog that has mauled a baby or is about to attack an officer, but a dog that is not doing anything but wagging its tail.

Each year, hundreds, possibly thousands, of animals are fatally shot by police.  The National Canine Research Council says nearly half of intentional shootings by police are to dogs.  While some of them may be vicious or are irreparably injured need to be put out of their misery, most of them die for no reason.  Animal rights and behavior experts say police execute these dogs because of prejudice, or even worse, simply because it is more convenient.  It is more convenient for a cop to shoot a furry family member than to think of a better solution.

It would be understandable if these dogs were actual threats, but there is not one documented case of a dog killing a police officer.  There aren’t even very many dog bites.  According to the NYPD’s 2011 Firearms discharge report, there were 28,000 calls to police about dogs or other animals.  Out of 28,000 calls, only five officers and two civilians were bitten during shooting incidents.

But there have been so many incidents of innocent dogs being murdered at the hands of police officers, who we are taught are there to serve and protect us, that police integrity is being called into question.  In Fairhope, Alabama, 10-year-old Maddie was shot on her own porch.  The police officer claimed she was running at large and tried to bite him, and even tried to jump in his patrol car, but his tale was contradicted by an eyewitness.

“The dog was not vicious at all,” a shaken Tyler Swafford said.  “It didn’t even come off its porch [when the deputy pulled up].  The deputy got out of his car and knelt down by the side of it.  There was a dog sitting at the edge of the porch, wagging its tail, and he shot it.  It looked like he did it for no reason.”

Photos show that Maddie was shot several times in the head and leg.  The devastated family said she was a gentle dog and was greatly loved by their children.

Axel

Axel was an 18-month-old yellow Lab from Charles City County, Virginia in training to be a service dog, and was shot in the face three times by Animal Control Officer Franklin Bates.

Rosie was a four-year-old Newfoundland in Des Moines, Iowa, who was hit twice with a Taser, then chased from her own yard and gunned down.  A neighbor had only called to report that she was loose and feared for the dog’s safety.  Rosie’s owners, Deirdre and Charles Wright, were unsuccessful in having the officers involved charged, and they were cleared of wrongdoing by the department.

But these trigger-happy police have not been cleared in everyone’s eyes, even if their superiors are more than willing participants in the blue code of silence.  The federal Department of Justice has recognized that this is a problem that needs to be addressed.  Last year they issued a 46-page police training and information guide entitled “The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters,” which was distributed by its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

The guide was developed after the ASPCA’s 2010 position paper determining that “most instances of police shooting dogs are avoidable,” and implored officers to better understand dogs and use a minimal amount of force on them.

The COPS guide educates police on dogs’ “posture, vocalizations and facial expressions” so they can assess whether or not they are even threatened.   Outlined are defensive options that do not include the use of deadly force.  Myths about dogs and biting are also debunked.  The reports of a “dog bite epidemic” were contradicted, as the numbers have actually declined.  The canine population in the US has grown steadily, but the whopping 37,000 dog bites reported in NYC in 1971 has been pared down to 3,600 in 2009.

Rosie

 

It can be difficult to determine accurate numbers of dog shootings because many police departments do not even require any kind of formal review for the slaying of a dog, and some don’t even have to write a separate report.  But in the public’s eye, every innocent dog shooting is one too many.

“It’s not about animal rights.  And nobody is questioning an officer’s right to protect himself or the public,” said Donald Cleary, director of communications for the National Canine Research Council. “But police need to know, to really understand, is that it just doesn’t look good.”

Few would question an officer who shot a dog because they were defending his or her life.  But most dogs are not brutally aggressive, and it seems that in many cases, it is the police who are brutally aggressive.  A child wielding a knife would pose a threat, but it is unlikely that an officer would shoot them.  Perhaps if they are so worried about their safety, they should carry tranquilizer guns to manage perceived threats instead of killing family members.

34 thoughts on “ASPCA: Most Instances of Police Shooting Dogs are Avoidable”

  1. I don’t think it’s “convenience” or “prejudice” – IMO cops do this because they get a sick thrill out of killing. Their badge and their department protects them from any consequences and thus they can give free rein to their most base impulses. It is my belief that police work mostly no longer attracts those who want to serve and protect. OBserve and protect their own sorry butts, yes. But mostly they want a career that gives them an outlet for sociopathic or even psychopathic urges toward violence and death. And it is not limited to animals but includes cop violence against extremely vulnerable humans too – including mentally ill and homeless.

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  2. Cops shoot dogs BECAUSE THEY CAN. They know nothing will happen to them. IT IS UP TO THE DOG OWNER, NEIGHBOR, WITNESSES, WHOMEVER HAS THE COURAGE TO STEP UP HERE. THE MEDIA SHOULD BE CONTACTED EVERYTIME A THUG COP SHOOTS A PET-ANY PET-NO MATTER IF A DRUG RAID-THE DOG IS NOT THE CRIMINAL-THE COP IS IF HE MURDERS THE DOG. DOGS HAVE BEEN SHOT IN THE BACK, IN CRATES. IT IS AN EPIDEMIC!

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  3. most cops are full of themselves and are on a power trip. their ego is so fragile, they will do anything to soothe it. and their abuses get covered up and looked over by their superiors. makes me sick.

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  4. My roommate and I were on our way to his parents house for Christmas when police stormed my house in a raid. They had no warrant but entered my house anyway. They told me I had to sign a consent form allowing them to search my house. I refused. My roommate and our two dogs a Boston terrier and a boxer were out in the car with him when this all happened. I was threatened flat out by the police that if I did not sign the consent form allowing them to search my house they would be forced to obtain a legal warrant from a judge and that the warrant would include my roommates car and since the dogs were in the car they would have to shoot them for the safety of the officers conducting the search. They also made about 20 other threats to me to convince me to sign the form. Which I did, only because I could tell he was pissed and serious. if I had not consented to that search he was going to murder my dogs because he knew he could get away with it. The good news of this story is that i signed the consent and they ended up not shooting my dogs. They did ransack my house and found an empty baggie that had drug residue in it so they did arrest me for that. But I got the whole thing thrown out because the supreme court says that a “Consent search” must be consensual in order to be legal. By threatening to shoot my dogs, destroy and trash everything in my house, arrest my friends, and ruin my life if I didn’t sign the consent form made my signature anything but consensual and the whole thing was thrown out. I fregging hate cops…

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  5. When a child hurts an animal at a very young age, you know that that child is mentally imbalanced. Something is definitely wrong with that child and will grow up to be a problem adult. These policemen that are adults, or mentally imbalanced period babies and children that hurt dogs turn out to be adults that are very bad

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