Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another Day Another Dog Shot by a Cop

Seriously, what's up with all the stories about cops shooting people's dogs?

As a writer for Change.org, I spend a lot of time reading through harrowing tales of prison abuse and lives destroyed by the criminal justice system. Almost every day, though, I come across a depressingly familiar story of some belligerent police officer shooting a defenseless animal. Reason magazine writer Radley Balko has blogged about enough cases to fill a volume, including a recent one in Baltimore where an off-duty cop shot a dog he felt was being aggressive toward his own pet. He was at a dog park.

This past weekend saw another cop, this one in the nation's capital, shooting someone's pet for no apparent good reason. According to press and blog accounts, the incident began when a man walked his two-year-old Shar-Pei mix "Parrot" though an annual street fair in Adams Morgan and the animal nipped at another dog passing by. It was after the dogs had already been separated, though, that in the words of The Washington Post, a D.C. police officer "took over" the situation -- by jamming his knee on the dog's back, grabbing it by the neck and throwing it down the stairwell of a nearby antique shop. He then shot the dog as it got up, according to witnesses.

"It's definitely going to be justified based on everything that we know," Jacob Kishter, commander of the local police force, insisted to the Post. Seeking to explain the incident, Kishter "said that once the officer pushed the dog down the stairwell, 'the dog immediately turns and runs at the officer aggressively.'"

Such a primitive creature -- the dog, that is -- acting "aggressively" when thrown down a set of steps! You'd think it would have rolled over for a belly rub.


Need I bother adding that several witnesses dispute the police account?




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The St. Petersburg Times, meanwhile, brings news of a case in Florida where a cop shot two dogs, the novelty in this story being that they were both leashed at the time. As the paper reports, the dogs, a Rottweiler and a Chesapeake Bay retriever, had been involved in a scuffle with another dog when Officer Slobodan Juric showed up.

"He was real Joe Macho," owner of the dogs Chris Clark recounts.

Kevin Mancias, owner of the elderly golden retriever that was attacked, explains what happened next. "We were trying to separate them, one thing led to another, and I guess the officer felt there was an issue and shot the Rottweiler," he said. "I grabbed my dog up and took off, and three more shots were fired. When I looked back, two dogs were dead in the street."

"I am surprised he fired a round with all these pedestrians around," he added. Police investigators are looking into the matter.

It's often said that the way someone treats an animal is a pretty good indication of how they will treat other people. If a person can't feel empathy toward a cute and cuddly dog or cat, after all, how do you suppose they will feel toward another, less-than-perfect human being?

Reading stories like these -- and stories like them are in local papers across the country -- should be a cause for concern.

Photo Credit: Adam Foster


Charles Davis is a Change.org editor. He has previously covered Congress, Latin America and the war on drugs for public radio stations and Inter Press Service.
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Comments (4)
Sep 14, 2010 @ 11:46AM PTDarci J
Interesting article. You're right, the way one treats animals is a clear indicator of their behaviors toward humans. Just look at protocols for investigating/evaluation domestic violence. Police officers often question if the perp has abused or threatened animals in the past.

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Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:18PM PTOtto VonAuchvetter
Too many people do not have any control over animals. Cops have to protect themselves.

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Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:47PM PTSonja Lund
There's a difference between controlling an animal and throwing it down the stairs and subsequently shooting and killing it, no?

There's many ways to establish dominance over an aggressive dog. Deliberately causing harm isn't one of them.

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Sep 15, 2010 @ 09:08AM PTBrett C
My guess is that some cops get antsy, wishing to pull the trigger on something. If they don't get the excuse to shoot some innocent man on the street, then a dog is the next best thing.

In the movie Insomnia, Al Pacino (a cop) has some doggie treats on him to befriend mean dogs that threaten to attack him when he's breaking in and entering people's homes without a warrant to doctor and plant evidence. Seems like cops in real life could carry some sort of animal treat on them just in case they encounter an unruly puppy (while their doctoring and planting falsified evidence, of course).



SOURCE: http://criminaljustice.change.org/blog/view/another_day_another_dog_shot_by_a_cop

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