A story has emerged from the online press which once again reminds me that there may be a problem in some parts of the USA with respect to the attitude of police officers towards cats and dogs. It seems that they find them hazardous or dangerous when they are not and because of this, and because they carry guns, they tend to shoot them unnecessarily. There appears to be an overzealous approach to shooting dogs (and cats sometimes) in the USA and it needs to be looked at. I sense that there is a need to retrain police officers to stop them being so nervous about dogs in yards and to respect animals.
All that a police officer has to do when confronted with a dog is to behave sensibly, take precautions and only as an absolute last resort should the officer shoot at a dog. It appears that in this instance the officer’s first thought was to shoot the dog causing severe injury. It is an approach which is disrespectful of animal rights.
The story concerns the state of Oklahoma. A police officer was called out after neighbours of the dog’s owner reported hearing gunshots. The police officer turned up at the dog owner’s home. The officer was simply investigating the area generally because I don’t think the gunshots (if there were gunshots) emanated from this particular home.
Anyway, the homeowner’s dog was at the front of the house. It appears that evidence indicates that the dog was relatively passive but probably barking. There appears to be no evidence that the dog attacked the officer. Despite this, the officer decided to shoot the dog in the shoulder. The dog suffered a severe injury. The dog lost his leg as a result and is traumatised as is the family.
The officer left a note on the door of the home where he shot the dog which stated that the officer was investigating a crime in the area and “your dog attacked our deputy. The dog was shot and we need you to call us.”
It would appear to me, and perhaps I’m being a bit cynical, that the officer found an excuse to shoot the dog because the dog was, or looked, aggressive. It is very easy indeed for a police officer to resort to this excuse for shooting a dog. Dogs can be dangerous. It seems to me that the officer was nervous about dogs and took the easy route by taking out his gun and shooting.
I understand that, subsequently, the sheriff admitted that the dog was aggressive but did not attack. You’d have to expect the dog to be aggressive in defending territory. This is normal. Surely there was a better way of dealing with this dog. What about calling out a dog specialist to deal with the animal in a respectful manner?
If I’m correct then this police officer acted in a callous and carelessness manner. However, having surfed the Internet for so long regarding animal welfare issues, I have to say that the attitude of this police officer is not that unusual. There have been many other occasions concerning the unnecessary shooting of dogs by American police officers. Eliza Black-Taylor has consistently reported on this on examiner.com.
It would seem that the general mood of the public, judging by their response, is that they agree with me. The Sheriff’s office has been inundated with threats and hate calls about the officer’s behaviour. As usual the sheriff defends his officer saying that there is nothing wrong with what happened.
The sheriff said:
“If it gets to the point where it is expected that a law enforcement officer gets out of his vehicle and can’t take action to protect his own safety from getting mauled by a dog then I think in the wrong business.”
Yes, a police officer should take action to protect his own safety but that action need not include shooting the dog without justification; common sense.
The issue is whether the officer was genuinely protecting himself or not and, as mentioned, I don’t think he was being attacked. There is no evidence of it. The dog’s owner said that her dog was doing nothing wrong by protecting her home and that he did not bite the officer. She plans to make a claim against the authorities. She is also raising funds online to pay for veterinary services.