Scout - shot by police in 2012

Scout – shot by police in 2012

There appears to be an epidemic in dog shootings these days, at the hands of police officers. If anything, the increase in pet shootings seems to be an effective way to attempt to coerce submission from community members through fear. And the trigger-finger murderers, who wrongfully execute these animals, rarely ever see any consequences for their actions.

Police officers in Missouri shot a chained Bulldog, which was posing no immediate threat to anyone, seeing as it was securely chained to a pole. The dog remained calmly lying on the ground until one officer began to chase it with a restraining pole. The dog never bit or harmed anyone. A complaint was made simply because it ‘growled’.

Another citizen, Marietta Robinson, had the police come to her home executing a warrant naming her grandson, who hadn’t been living in her home for years. Robinson asked the police if she could put her dog in the bathroom, which they allowed. During the search the police entered the bathroom and shot eight rounds at the dog.

The Simmons, one a professional dog trainer, had the police enter their home on June 17thof 2013, to execute a warrant for an expired vehicle registration. The police happened to be in the wrong town, and the name on the warrant read ‘Neal Simpson’, not ‘James or Renata Simmons’. The police reportedly walked around the rear of the property when they saw the Simmons therapy dog, Vinny, playing and running free with another dog in his fenced area. The officers shot at Vinny three times, with one shot hitting him in the back of the neck. According to police spokesperson Lt. Derral partin, the dogs were ‘growling’ and ‘closing the distance very quickly’, the Lieutenant unsurprisingly defended the officer who fired the shots, stating that it is the policy of the department to use lethal force on any animal they think are attacking:

“We’re trained to fire until the threat is stopped.”
– Lt. Derral Partin

But why are the police officers viewing these dogs as a threat first, instead of as a family member of the home they are entering, or a piece of private property which belongs to the individual they are dealing with? Surely they are aware of the strong bonds which can form between a man and his dog, and how families might consider their dogs to also be members of their family. Even police officers themselves work with dogs, and form strong personal and professional relationships with them. Police officers refer to the dogs they work with as fellow officers, always showing, and expecting others to treat the police dogs with the same respect as any other officer. The officers who train these dogs spend years working by their side, forming very strong bonds of friendship with their dogs. So they should be able to then fathom, and consider the implications of their aggressive actions, and the emotional distress it might cause a family, to lose one of their beloved family members. And the amount of frustration and pain that is further inflicted, when that family cannot seek any justice to the unjust, and wrongful murder of someone who they love dearly. And why is it that citizens are quickly disciplined, if their actions injure or kill a police dog, but the same standard is not applied when police officers themselves engage in mindless neglect of their dog, which leads to harm or death for the dog-officer?

Law enforcement officer, James Gaffney, rightfully warns that officers who recklessly shoot these animals, need to fear potential lawsuits from the victims owners. Gaffney claims that these types of lawsuits are becoming a trend circulating in the federal circuit courts of appeal. According to Gaffney, the current trend makes it unlawful for an officer to seize a dog by deadly physical force, unless the actions taken by that officer were found to be objectively reasonable pursuant to the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment discusses the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. The federal courts [now] recognize a dog, one’s canine companion, as an ‘effect’.
– James Gaffney

How You Can Help Protect Your Dog

  • Keep your dog away from law enforcement during times of strife, or interactions with law enforcement

  • do not let your dog roam unleashed

  • do not leave your dog outside unattended

  • maintain all fences, gates, and screens to prevent your dog from escaping

One mentionable facebook page titled ‘K9 Cop Block‘ has been established on the site, which documents various news stories of police abuse against dogs.