Since January of 2010, Houston police have gunned down 187 dogs, killing 121 of them.
And last year alone, law enforcement officers in Houston and Harris County shot more dogs than New York City police officers shot in 2010 and 2011 combined.
All of those shooting were deemed by police to have been justified, but it’s not too hard to find families that disgree with that.
The KHOU 11 News I-Team did, and its report this week is more evidence that, across the country, requiring police to be trained in dealing with dogs could save dogs, and their families, a lot of pain.
Colorado passed a law requiring that, and it was signed by the governor this week.
The KHOU report, when it looked at the police-involved dog shootings for all of Harris County found at least 228 dogs had been shot by officers and deputies since 2010, 142 of them fatally.
“If the dog turns and comes at a citizen, or the deputy, they have all right to use lethal force,” explained Dpt. Thomas Gilliland of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Records show Harris County deputies shot 38 canines in the last three-and-a-half years.
When asked if all those shootings were justified, Gilliland said: “The justification is, in that matter, and at that moment the deputy had to choose the decision to use lethal force against that animal.”
Sgt. Joseph Guerra, who works as a cruelty investigator for the Houston Humane Society, said it teaches some officers how to safety interact with threatening dogs. But the training isn’t mandated for all officers.
“A lot of times, officers are not sent to training to get that type of certification to feel comfortable enough to deal with these animals,” he said. “We need to get those officers involved in some mandated training in how to defend before going to deadly force.”
The Arlington and Fort Worth Police Departments started mandatory dog training for officers last fall, and state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the training for officers across Texas.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 17th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aggressive, animals, arlington, behavior, canines, colorado, dangerous, deputies, dogs, fatal, fort worth, harris county, houston, interact, killed, law enforcement, new york, officers, pets, police, police shooting dogs, shoot, shot, texas, threatening, training
Dog lovers have been pushing for the measure in light of recent fatal pet shootings by law enforcement officers, some of which were widely viewed as questionable and might have been preventable if officers had more knowledge of dogs and were better able to determine when they posed a true threat.
During debate on the bill, lawmakers said 37 dogs have been shot by officers in Colorado over the last five years.
“The idea here is to keep officers and animals safe,” Hickenlooper said. The governor brought his dog, Skye — a shelter mutt who is part Akita, part bulldog, part chow chow – along for the bill signing.
Also on Monday, the Colorado legislature proclaimed shelter dogs and cats as the official state pets, approving a proposal presented by schoolchildren as part of a program to teach them about the legislative process.
The training legislation mandates that sheriffs’ offices and police departments offer three hours of online training on recognizing dog behaviors and employing non-lethal control methods, according to the Associated Press. The law also directs authorities to give dog owners the option to control or remove their dogs when officers respond to a call concerning a nonviolent crime. The training must be in place by Sept. 1, 2014.
The bill — believed to be the first of its kind – was unanimously approved.
(Photo: Brittany Moore with Ava, her German shepherd, who was shot and killed by an Erie, Colo., police officer in May 2011)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ava, bill, colorado, dog, dogs, governor, killings, law, law enforcement, mandated, officers, online, pets, police, requirement, shootings, signed, three hours, training
Baby Girl, the pit bull shot by police officers at a park in Staten Island, is recovering as both donations and complaints about the officers’ actions pour in.
The dog remains in a veterinary clinic, where she has undergone two surgeries, the Staten Island Advance reports.
Special Needs Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation (SNARR), the rescue organization Baby Girl’s owner adopted her from, said the costs of her medical care have already reached $8,000. About $2,500 has been collected through a Facebook campaign to help cover the expenses.
In addition to a bullet wound, Baby Girl suffered a broken toe.
On Saturday, Patricia Ratz and her sister brought their three pit bulls to Schmul Park for a walk. Two of the dogs began fighting. Ratz, in an attempt to break up the fight, stuck her hand between the two dogs and got bitten.
When police arrived, two officers fired their weapons at Baby Girl, even though she hadn’t been involved in the altercation and was running away, Ratz and her sister said.
Police said the incident is under review.
Ratz adopted Baby Girl, who is about two years old, from SNARR six months ago.
SNARR founder Robin Menard is spearheading the effort to raise money for the care of Baby Girl at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, N.J.
A website – www.snarrdogpolice.com — has been created to provides updates on Baby Girl’s health and collect donations.
“It’s awesome to see how many regardless of race, beliefs, religion, location and so on, have come together to support the family, my rescue, as well as Baby Girl,” Menard said.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 9th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baby girl, care, dog, dogs, donations, expenses, fight, garden state veterinary, injured, law enforcement, new york, officers, patricia ratz, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, recovery, robin menard, schmul park, shooting, snarr, special needs animal rescue and rehabilitation, staten island, surgery, veterinary
Police in Baltimore shot and killed a family’s pit bull when the dog ran out of his home as police were chasing a suspect.
“He wasn’t just our dog. He was our family,” Stacey Fields said of the family’s dog, Kincaid. “It’s a horrible thing seeing your dog that you love laying on the ground dead and bloody.”
Fields said a suspect being chased down an alley ran into their basement stairwell, with police in pursuit.
Kincaid ran out of his home during the commotion, and Baltimore police say he charged at the officers.
WJZ reported the dog was shot three times, twice in the head
“He was just barking like ‘Hey, what are doing in my yard? Who are you?’” Fields said.
“If it was a Cockapoo or a Chihuahua it probably wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “If he had pulled his mace, Kincaid would still be here.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baltimore, breeds, charged, chase, city, dogs, killed, maryland, officers, pets, pit bull, pitbull, police, pursuit, shot, stacey fields, suspect
Channel 2 Action News took a look at how often police officers in the Atlanta metropolitan area shot dogs in the course of their duties, and counted nearly 100 cases in the past two years.
Individual department records show sthat, since 2010, dogs were shot 25 times in Atlanta, 32 times in DeKalb county, 19 times in Gwinnett County, 10 times in Clayton County and eight times in Cobb County, including the most recent shooting this past September.
In that case, Cobb County officers responding to an alarm call shot and killed Luke, a chocolate lab when he ran out of the home barking.
In that case — in fact, in each of the more than 100 cases — the officer or officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
“There isn’t an officer out there I know that wants to shoot a dog, any animal!” said Kliff Grimes a national representative for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. Officers often only have a “split-second” to make the decision to fire their guns, he added.
Channel 2 found only one metro area department, Cobb County, that requires officers to have specific training on how to respond to dogs, and that just started this year.
“With training there would be some accountability,” said Elizabeth Cullifer, whose dog Basil was shot two years ago. “There is no accountability in the situation with us. It was like he felt threatened, he shot your dog. That’s it,” she said.
Cullifer had left the fmaily’s 45-pound dog outside when marshals arrived to serve papers in a civil lawsuit. Cullifer heard gunshots and found Basil dead. The papers were for someone who had not lived there in eight years.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, area, atlanta, clayton, cobb, counties, county, dekalb, dog, dogs, fulton, gwinnett, law enforcement, metro, metropolitian, officers, pets, police, shootings, shot
As the only certified officer in the New Mexico town, it appears, on paper anyway, that Nikka’s in charge.
Police Chief Ernest “Chris” Armijo stepped down Wednesday after news stories reported that he wasn’t allowed to carry a gun because of his criminal background.
Vaughn’s only other human officer isn’t certified as a result of pleading guilty to charges of assault and battery last year, according to the Associated Press.
Non-certified officers aren’t allowed to make arrests or carry firearms.
That leaves law enforcement in the small eastern New Mexico town up to Nikka, a drug-sniffing dog who apparently lives with the former chief.
State officials said Chief Armijo couldn’t carry a gun because he owes tens of thousands of dollars in child support payments in Texas. He also faces felony charges after being accused of selling a town-owned rifle and keeping the cash.
Town attorney Dave Romero says Armijo is trying to clear up the latest case and hasn’t ruled out returning to the position.
Romero said not having an officer qualified to carry a gun didn’t put the small town at risk, and added that town officials are looking at hiring another officer. He said it’s unclear whether the town will keep the police dog, which had been in Armijo’s care.
Letting Nikka serve as chief — though we think it’s a good idea — apparently hasn’t been discussed.
Guadalupe County Sheriff Michael Lucero said his department has helped patrol Vaughn, a town of about 450 people located 104 miles east of Albuquerque. But he said that has put a strain on his short-staffed department.
When approached by an Associated Press reporter, Armijo said he had no comment, and he declined to allow Nikka to be photographed.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, certified, chief, child support, department, dog, dogs, drug, drug-sniffing, Ernest Armijo, firearms, K-9, k9, law enforcement, new mexico, nikka, officers, one, pets, police, police dog, remaining, resignation, sniffing, vaughn, weapons
Chief Gene Wrinn , acknowledged that his officers didn’t follow procedure during the March 21 incident and that they failed to call animal control officers, in accordance with policy.
His remarks came during a meeting Tuesday with residents, held at a local library, according to the Brattleboro Reformer
“We screwed up. We apologize for that, and we’re going to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said. “We’ve gotten some good feedback. We’re not sweeping anything under the carpet. We’re having conversations.”
Wrinn said two officers responded to the Green Street School playground for a dog complaint, and one of the officers used a shotgun to kill the animal, believed to be a pit bull or pit bull mix.
“It was truly unfortunate that the department had to take the dog’s life, but it had to happen,” Wrinn said.
While some have described the dog as “dying,” other residents say it may have just been ill. “It probably was hungry. It probably was dehydrated,” said one.
Wrinn declined to say if the two officers involved had been disciplined. “That’s a personnel matter, and it can’t be discussed,” he said.
Wrinn noted that department representatives have met with the Windham County Humane Society. “This may be a great opportunity for training for the officers,” he added.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animal control, animals, brattleboro, citizens, complaints, dog, dogs, dying, gene wrinn, meeting, officers, pets, pit bull, playground, police, police chief, residents, school, shooting, shot, shotgun, sick, vermont
“A good shoot” is how police in Pembroke Pines, Florida, are describing the shooting of Baxter, an Australian shepherd officers opened fire on outside his owner’s home.
The 6-year-old Australian Shepherd was shot at least three times Friday night inside the gated Lido Isle neighborhood.
Police went to the house after receiving a call from a citizen who reported the dog was loose in front of the owner’s house.
The dog’s owner, Frank Jones, said Baxter was already back inside the house when police arrived, but the front door was open and the dog ran out.
His son, Cameron Jones, 13, went outside to get Baxter, who was barking at officers. “They said get your dog or we’re gonna shoot him,” the boy told Local 10 News. Two seconds later, according to the boy, they did.
Police officials said the dog bit an officer’s shoe.
Baxter was still alive Saturday (you can see video of him, not looking too ferocious, in this news report). He was being treated at a Cooper City animal clinic.
A Pembroke Pines police spokesman said the shooting was justified: “It was a good shoot,” said Pembroke Pines Police Sgt. Chris Chacon-Chang. “The officer was being attacked.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, australian shepherd, baxter, community, dog, dogs, florida, force, gated, good shoot, guns, house, officers, outside, own yard, pembroke pines, pets, police, shoot, yard
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
Two New Orleans police officers have been charged in connection with the deaths of two police dogs in unrelated incidents.
Jason Lewis, 33, is accused of leaving Primo, a Belgian Malinois, unattended in a police department SUV, leading to the dog’s heat related death.
The case was heavily publicized last summer when the Metropolitan Crime Commission released photographs, including the one above, which shows what Primo did to the vehicle before dying from apparent heat stroke. Lewis was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.
Sgt. Randy Lewis, a former supervisor in the New Orleans Police Department’s K-9 unit, meanwhile, was charged with malfeasance in office, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
Randy Lewis, 45, was handling another K-9, Phantom, who last May fell down an open elevator shaft at the abandoned Charity Hospital building in downtown New Orleans — while Lewis was moonlighting. Lewis claimed he was on duty and involved in a training exercise, according to a spokesman for the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office. Actually he was being paid to work on a private security detail.
Neither officer has worked with dogs since the deaths.
Attorneys for the officers said the charges are unfair and they will fight them in court.
“Both of these cases are significant above and beyond the fact that, tragically, an animal lost its life,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, which last summer asked the district attorney’s office to look at the cases. “I think that these cases, both of them, indicate and speak to the police department’s inability to adequately police itself.”
According to an LSU necropsy report, Primo, 6 years old, likely died from shock due to heat stroke. He was taken to a veterinary office with a body temperature of 109.8 degrees.
The other dog, Phantom, died after falling from the 17th floor into an empty elevator shaft at around 9:30 at night on May 21, 2009. According to a report obtained by the Crime Commission, the dog’s body was removed by officers the next morning.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, belgian malinois, charged, charges, cruelty to animals, dogs, elevator, fall, fell, heat, heat stroke, jason lewis, K-9, k-9 unit, k9, law enforcement, left in car, malfeasance, metropolitan crime commission, new orleans, officers, ohmidog!, pets, phantom, police, police dogs, primo, randy lewis, shaft, vehicle