Dog’s shooting death leads to campaign
In any case, when it comes to the seventh dog shot and killed by St. Petersburg police officers this year, the public anger is not subsiding.
Boomer’s death is still echoing — and doing so well beyond Florida.
Between his vocal owner, a Facebook page called “Boomer’s Voice,” and a petition at Change.org that has drawn more than 4,000 signatures, Boomer’s death has already gotten more attention than the previous six dogs that were shot, combined, the St. Petersburg Times reports.
Roy Glass, a prominent personal injury lawyer, says he wants the police to know how much the dog’s violent death hurt his family. He wants the agency to admit the officer was wrong, and he wants police to change how they deal with dogs.
“What I want is for police to not be so trigger-happy in blowing away an obvious family pet,” he said.
Boomer escaped from his fenced yard Oct. 1 after a worker removed some wire that kept the dog from digging his way out. That night, he approached a woman walking her dog. The woman says he growled and snapped at her when she tried to check his tags.
When the woman called police, officers Misty Swanson and Michelle Fotovat responded. According to their police report, the dog was sociable at first, but bared his teeth when Swanson reached for the dog’s tags.
“Officer Swanson was about two feet from the dog when I observed her pull out her gun and fire one shot at the clearly now vicious dog,” Fotovat wrote in the police report.
Glass says — despite the dog’s tags — police never called him. On Oct. 2, he reported his dog missing. On Oct. 3, the SPCA called to tell him what happened to Boomer.
When Glass and his wife, Lauren, started hearing from other residents whose dogs had been shot and killed by police, they started a campaign.
They began a Boomer’s Voice Facebook page, featuring a photo of the dead and bloody Boomer, which already has over 2,500 followers. A California animal activist started a petition on Change.org calling for St. Pete’s officers to be better trained to handle animals.
“When a police officer’s first line of defense in restraining an animal is to reach for a weapon, it is sending the wrong message to the community that they swore to uphold and protect,” the petition says. “The ‘uncooperative animal’ that the police officer may kill could be someone’s senior pet who could be afraid, deaf, or in pain and not able to respond to the officer’s request.”
Boomer’s shooting is under investigation by the Police Department’s internal affairs division, and police aren’t commenting until the investigation is completed.
A police spokesman did point out that, after a September 2010 shooting that killed two leashed dogs, all officers were ordered to go through two hours of training with the SPCA.
Boomer’s owner believes that’s not enough. Glass wants to see officers undergo more extensive training, and lawmakers rewrite existing laws that define pets as property.
“As the law stands, our pets are nothing but chattel,” he said. “They’re personal property, and if somebody violates them, or abuses or maims or kills (them), you’re not entitled to any compensatory damages other than value of the dog. That’s so antiquated these days.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: attorney, boomer, boomers voice, campaign, change.org, death, facebook, florida, golden retriever, killed, laws, lawyer, officers, petition, police, property, roy glass, shot, st. petersburg, training, trigger-happy