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Tag: law enforcement

Last month’s feel-good story takes bad turn

Luke the K9 solo (Courtesy of Joel Fields)

A suburban police officer who made national headlines for rescuing a doomed shelter dog and training him for police work has been fired from his job — and his whole story is now being questioned.

On top of that, the Bel-Ridge Police Department, outside St. Louis, is asking that officer Joel Fields return the dog that taxpayers, at least in part, paid to have trained, at least in part, as a police K9.

The total truth about the story is still unraveling, but the untruths unearthed so far indicate the heartwarming account Fields gave the news media wasn’t entirely accurate — including the claim that the dog, named Luke, came from a shelter and was scheduled to be euthanized.

As a result, and as has happened before, all across the Internet, thousands of hearts were falsely warmed.

As usual, we can blame lazy news media, and even lazier bloggers, for the misinformation — as well as the officer whose account of saving the dog from death’s doorstep was initially accepted on its face as truthful.

fieldsFields was praised by PEOPLE and pictured as a savior by numerous dog websites after the story broke in April.

(Fortunately, ohmidog! wasn’t one of them. We’d like to say it’s because it didn’t pass our special sniff test, or get approved by our crack team of fact checkers, but it was probably more dumb luck.)

Still, there were clues — like how hard Fields seemed to be seeking publicity, the professionally made photos he supplied of him and Luke, and the boasting about all the drug busts Luke nearly immediately made as a rookie on the job.

“He made seven drug busts in less than a month and a half of working the road with me,” Fields told Fox2 News.

How true that is — as well as the rest of the story Fields gave about the retriever — are now under suspicion.

News4 in St. Louis is now reporting that Brad Croft, the owner of Universal K9, the company that helped train Luke, is saying the account Fields gave the news media was mostly lies.

“I was a little upset, because Joel was told from the day I handed him the leash of the dog that this was not a shelter dog,” said Croft.

Croft told News4 he suspects Fields was lying about the dog’s background in an effort to gain fame and “get people to back him and give him money.”

Officials are also now investigating whether Luke was fully trained and certified as a police dog.

City prosecutor Sam Alton says Fields initially told them the dog was certified as a K9, but he says they have learned that is not true. That fact could complicate any criminal court cases Luke played a role in.

Alton says Fields is now refusing to give up the dog, whose training was funded at least in part by taxpayers.

“We would like to see the taxpayers not lose money, we would like the dog to live a happy and productive life and we would like to see the dog in service as it was meant to be,” Alton said.

“Everything legally from our point of view shows that the dog belongs to the city of Bel-Ridge,” he added. “It’s unfortunate for the city, it’s unfortunate for the residents, it’s unfortunate for the dog and it’s unfortunate for him (Fields).”

Fields told News4 over the phone this week that he quit and wasn’t fired, and wouldn’t comment anymore until talking to his attorney.

KMOV.com

$1.26 million awarded to family of dog shot and killed by police officer in Maryland

vern

A jury has awarded $1.26 million to a Maryland family whose dog was shot and killed by police in 2014 — the largest award ever in the U.S. for such a case, according to the law firm that represented the family.

According to a press release from the Hansel Law firm in Baltimore, the verdict came after a three-day trial in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.

“The duty to serve and protect extends to our animal family members as well,” said Cary J. Hansel, the attorney for Michael Reeves of Glen Burnie.

Reeves’ four-year-old retriever, Vern, was shot by an officer responding to a burglary call in Reeves’ neighborhood.

Anne Arundel County police officer Officer Rodney Price claimed he was attacked by Vern, but forensic evidence presented at the trial led the jury to conclude otherwise.

vern2Vern was a Chesapeake Bay retriever. The breed is the state dog of Maryland.

The officer encountered the dog in the family’s front yard, and the officer said the dog barked and ran toward him.

During the trial, the officer admitted that the dog did not bite or injure him before he fired his weapon. The officer also said no other steps were taken to deal with the dog before the dog was shot two times, the Capital Gazette reported.

A necropsy performed at the request of Anne Arundel County police showed that one bullet entered the dog’s sternum, and another bullet entered the dog’s side, at a time when the dog’s body was perpendicular to the gun.

Attorney Hansel said that evidence contradicted Price’s testimony regarding how the shooting occurred.

An internal investigation by the police department earlier determined the dog had behaved aggressively. Price remains with the police department.

The jury found that Price was not attacked by the dog, that the shooting violated Reeves’ constitutional rights, and that it was committed with gross negligence.

Reeves got Vern in 2009 and took a year off work to train him. He declined to comment after the verdict.

The $1.26 million verdict includes $500,000 in monetary damages and $760,000 in damages for the anguish caused by the shooting.

The firm says the award was the largest ever in a case of a dog shot and killed by a police officer.

The Department of Justice estimates that about 10,000 dogs are shot by law enforcement officers every year in the United States.

The curious case of the chewed up chaise

dogchew

Law enforcement authorities in Norfolk (the one in the UK) have a whodunit on their hands.

Well, more like a whichdogdidit.

Three police dogs who reside with the same trainer are under investigation to determine which one of them, or which combination of them, shredded an outdoor lounger.

“That used to be a sun bed,” their handler tweeted in a photo post of the crime scene.

In it, all three dogs are sitting obediently alongside the lounger looking innocent or guilty, depending on one’s point of view.

And humans, as usual, are only too willing to pass judgment based on that photo alone. Internet voting has “all three” leading the way, with 44 percent of the vote.

The Eastern Daily Press is tallying the votes.

Among those who don’t suspect a three-way conspiracy, the cocker spaniel is is getting the most guilty votes. And some are saying all the evidence is circumstantial and suspicions shouldn’t be cast on the dogs just because they were there and the ground around them strewn with foam bits.

It could have been a visiting dog, or intruding squirrels, some suggest.

“Being police dogs, I think they rumbled an attack by rogue squirrels and are now standing guard to make sure the miscreants do not return,” one dog-faithful reader tweeted.

There has been no mention of conducting DNA testing on the chewed up foam, and the dogs — named Shuck, Murphy and Gizmo — remain free on their own recognizance.

(Photo: Twitter)

Deputy shoots herself while killing dog

This confrontation between a dog and a sheriff’s deputy didn’t come out well for anybody.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said that the deputy, who was not identified by name, was attempting to contact the dog’s owner following the mauling of a homeless man when she was attacked.

The incident took place over the weekend at a homeless encampment in Hudson, Fla.

Deputies had received a report about a pit bull at the encampment attacking a homeless man and responded to interview the owner, according to Fox13.

As the deputy approached, the dog broke its leash and went after her, grabbing her pant leg and causing her to trip.

The deputy fired several shots at the dog, killing it, but one of the shots grazed her own hand, injuring a finger.

“I shot my finger off,” she can be heard saying in the body cam video the sheriff’s office released.

Her injury was treated a local hospital.

The sheriff’s office says the deputy has three pit bulls herself and she is familiar with the breed.

No charges have been filed yet.

Look, up in the sky, it’s … it’s … it’s … skydiving anti-poaching dog!

If the ranks of specialized crime-fighting canines seem to be reaching new heights, well, they are.

Drug-sniffing dogs, bomb-detecting dogs, and even “porn dogs” are all already on duty, but there’s a new incarnation of crime fighting dog hovering on the horizon, and it may be most super-hero-like yet:

Skydiving anti-poaching dogs.

To help crackdown on the epidemic of ivory poaching in Africa, dogs are now being trained to parachute (with their handlers) from helicopters, track and take down poachers.

skydivingdogarrowArrow, the two-year-old Belgian Malinois shown in the photo to the left, hasn’t gone out on an actual mission yet.

But he and a six-year-old German shepherd named Giant, featured in the video above, are being trained for the task at the Anti-Poaching and Canine Training Academy, according to NationalGeographic.com

It’s run by Paramount Group, a defense contractor based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The academy’s canines, which are bred at the facility, are trained and matched with rangers from national parks and game reserves across Africa.

Dogs have been skydiving for a while now (remember the one on the Navy Seal mission that took down Osama bin Laden?). But that’s only half of this job.

Once on the ground, the dogs — much faster and better at tracking than humans — are released to pursue the poachers and bring them down before they vanish into the bush.

Both dogs have already mastered descending from a helicopter by rope, strapped to their handler, but parachuting gets them to the ground more quickly, and decreases the likelihood of the poachers being scared off by the noise of the helicopter.

An estimated 100 elephants a day are gunned down by poachers who saw off their tusks. About a thousand rhinos were killed last year by poachers who harvested their horns.

Africa’s parks are far too vast to be patrolled effectively, allowing the poachers to operate almost with impunity.

Dogs, as is often the case in war and crime-fighting, were seen as effective strategy. Flying dogs? Even better.

The risks (to the dogs) is high. Fleeing poachers could easily train their high powered rifles on the dog pursuing them. Having a drone chase them down, maybe one that could fire tranquilizer darts at the poachers, would seem to make more sense. But then again drones don’t have dog noses.

Eric Ichikowitz, director of the Johannesburg-based Ichikowitz Family Foundation, which helped launch the training program, says the dogs seem to like the chase, getting excited when they hear the roar of a helicopter.

“The dogs are exceptionally comfortable with skydiving,” he says.
“They know they’re going to work.”

(Photo: National Geographic)

From “throwaway” dog to police canine

kayos

The wife of a Philadelphia police officer is proving that police dogs don’t have to be expensive European imports.

Carol Skaziak, after seeing too many dogs languishing in shelters, started an organization called Throw Away Dogs.

Established two years ago and based outside Philadelphia, the program rescues neglected shelter dogs and works to rehabilitate and train them for police work like narcotics detection and patrolling.

Since beginning her work, nine out of 12 dogs she has rescued have been placed with police departments across the country.

“I pour my heart and soul into it and all I ask for these departments is to just give my dogs a chance,” she told NBC News.

Unlike most police dogs, who commonly are expensive purebreds purchased from Europe, these home-grown mutts are donated to departments in need.

billtarsandkayos“This is a huge amount of money that we are saving,” she said. “It will save (a police department) anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000, $10,000.”

Assisting her in the effort are K-9 handlers from area police departments.

The program puts the dogs through a three-month training period, and while not all will earn spots on police forces, Skaziak says all dogs that go through the program find a home — something they didn’t have before.

“I will follow through with every dog from start to finish. Not all dogs will make it through K-9 school and I am OK with that outcome. I will then find a perfect loving family for that dog that will love and treat them like part of their family. It’s just a different kind of badge they will be wearing,” she notes on the organization’s website.

While she doesn’t believe every dog can be trained to be a police dog, there are many in shelters who have the high play drive it takes for the job.

After a graduation ceremony this year, two “throwaway” dogs were placed with the Roanoke Police Department, and a third with the police department in Roanoke, Va.

Skaziak, who is married to a Philadelphia police traffic officer, came up with the idea for Throw Away Dogs in 2013, while doing public relations work for a shelter in Philadelphia.

“I was upset about it, because people were throwing these dogs away like trash,” Skaziak told the Roanoke Times.

(Photos: Officer Bill Tars and Throw Away Dog Kayos in Roanoke, by Heather Rosseau / The Roanoke Times)

Off-duty NYPD officer charged with hitting 71-year-old woman in dispute over her dog

alvick2

An off-duty police officer has been charged with punching a 71-year-old woman in the face during an argument that began when he objected to her Yorkshire terrier riding the elevator.

Officer Vladimir Radionov, 46, is accused of striking the woman Sunday morning after she tried to bring her 9-pound Yorkshire terrier onto the elevator of their building in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach.

“I think if I didn’t run away, he would kill me,” Janet Goldschmidt told The New York Post. “He was so angry.”

Radionov, a New York City police officer, was charged with second degree assault.

alvickGoldschmidt said Radionov started cursing when she stepped onto the elevator after taking her dog, Alvick, for a walk.

Pets are only allowed in the building’s service elevator, but Goldschmidt says she asked him if he’d be willing to let them ride in the passenger elevator with him.

“He says, ‘Take your motherf–king dog out of the elevator. I don’t want to go up with your f–king dirty dog,'” she said.

“He came at me like a bull. He just attacked me … He said ‘No’ and started punching me … I throw a cup of coffee, thinking this is going to stop him but it doesn’t. He punches me in the back. He grabs me and pulls me out like I am a child.”

The Post reported that sources who had seen the elevator surveillance video said it shows Radionov dragging her out of the elevator, then pushing her when she tries to get back in.

At one point, Goldschmidt fell, injuring her tailbone and hitting the back of her head. She also scraped her arm during the fall, sources told The Post. She was taken to Coney Island Hospital for treatment.

Goldschmidt reported the incident to the building superintendent and police.

After his arrest, Radionov was freed on $5,000 bail, but an order of protection was issued requiring him to stay away from the building in which he also resides.

“I am so surprised. He is a police officer,” Goldschmidt said. “Police officers are supposed to keep us safe. Instead, he was acting like a criminal.”

(Photos: By Gabriella Bass / New York Post)