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Tag: police

Of Dogs and Men: Documentary examines epidemic of dog shootings by police officers

A new documentary brings attention to an epidemic that really needs some — the shooting of dogs by police officers in America.

Anyone who reads this website knows it happens far too much — take Tuesday, for example — and often without good reason.

There are no firm statistics, but consider the estimates: The Department of Justice says about 10,000 dogs are shot by police officers every year.

And the number of police officers killed by dogs? None. Ever.

The documentary “Of Dogs and Men” takes a look at those alarming numbers, and what’s behind them, featuring many of the same cases we’ve reported here:

• Cisco, who was playing Frisbee with his owner in his Austin, Texas back yard when police at the wrong address for a domestic dispute call, shot and killed him.

• Payton and Chase, who were shot by police during a raid on a Maryland home – not only was their owner innocent of any charges, he is the town’s mayor.

• General Patton, who watched as his owners were handcuffed on the side of a Tennessee highway, completely innocent of any charges, and then killed as he exited the car, wagging his tail.

• Patches, a 12 pound Jack Russell terrier, who was shot by a 250-pound police officer who claimed to be in fear for his life.

“From SWAT raids to simple calls and even visits to wrong addresses, we are seeing more and more incidents of officers using lethal force against a family pet, despite the fact that no officer has ever been killed in the line of duty by a dog,” said director Michael Ozias. “We are hoping that this film compels more jurisdictions to follow the lead of states like Texas and Colorado that have taken steps to protect our law enforcement officers and our family dogs through increased awareness, proper training and effective policy.”

Of Dogs and Men, by Ozymandias Media, Inc., will premier Nov. 1 at the Austin Film Festival.

The film is being released in association with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

“Use of deadly force is rarely justified in these types of cases,” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “With better training, we are confident that we can put an end to these pointless killings,”

“Of Dogs and Men does an excellent job educating citizens on both the common facts of these heartbreaking cases and the surprising scope of the problem, while highlighting the tools citizens can employ to change outcomes for the better—from legislation requiring officer training in canine encounters to litigation under the federal civil rights act,” Wells added. “This film needed to be made and ALDF is proud to be a part of it.”

Some states are headed in the right direction.

Texas, where the problem is perhaps most severe, passed HB 593 in 2015, which requires mandatory canine encounter training for incoming Texas peace officers as well as those who seek advancement. The training helps officers who encounter dogs achieve safe and non-confrontational outcomes for both the officer and the dog.

The State of Colorado also enacted a statute that requires local law enforcement to undergo training to differentiate between threatening and non-threatening dog behaviors, and employ non-lethal means whenever possible.

Illinois has enacted similar legislation and other states are considering it as well.

You’d almost think dog lives don’t matter

No dog has ever killed a police officer in the line of duty.

And yet police officers, in the line of duty, shoot about 10,000 dogs a year in America, according to Department of Justice estimates.

One of the latest fatalities in the epidemic was Duchess, shot down Tuesday by an officer who acted quickly, if not wisely.

Within the space of about two seconds, a Florida City police officer determined the dog running out a front door he had knocked on was a threat and shot him three times.

The 40-pound pit bull mix died almost instantly as a surveillance camera recorded the incident.

Gillian Palacios said her two-year-old dog ran out of the front door when she started to open it.

The officer had knocked on the door to let the family know their car door was open.

“Before I could even do anything, the officer had his gun out and shot her three times in the head,” she told WPLG.

“She was curious. She wasn’t barking (and) she wasn’t growling,” Palacios said. “There was no reason for him to think she was aggressive in any way.”

“There were a million things he could have done other that shoot her three times in the head,” she added.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Florida City police spokesman Ken Armenteros defended the officer’s actions.

“We don’t have the luxury of hindsight,” Armenteros said. “We have to use the information that is given to us in a split second. So, the officer has to make that decision with the information that he has available.”

What about the luxury of foresight, though, we’d ask?

What about a mandatory program that trains all of a police force’s officers in canine behavior, how to interpret it, how to deal with it and how to make their split second decisions a little more wisely, a little less rashly?

All state legislatures should require such training, all police forces should get it in place. Only then will the “shoot first” mentality, and the thinking that dog lives don’t matter, begin to subside.

(Tomorrow: A look at a new documentary that explores the epidemic, “Of Dogs and Men.”)

Homeless man in Paris gets his dog back

Amid a police investigation and a public outcry, animal rights activists have returned the puppy they seized from a homeless man in Paris last month, according to news reports.

Activists from Cause Animale Nord, an animal rights group based in Lille in northern France, snatched the puppy in September from a homeless man on a street in central Paris. Members later said the homeless man had drugged the dog and was using it to assist him in begging.

The incident was caught on camera and, since being posted on Facebook and elsewhere, it has been viewed more than 1.7 million times.

parisA petition on the website Change.org calling for an investigation into Cause Animale Nord’s actions has been signed by nearly 250,000 people.

A police inquiry was launched a on September 25, according to The Telegraph.

The president of Cause Animale Nord — seen taking the dog on the video — was brought in for questioning, but released after promising to return the dog to its owner.

The group had placed the dog in foster care, and was offering it for adoption for a fee of €175.

23 dogs seized from home outside of Charlotte in dog fighting investigation

dogfighting2

More than 20 dogs believed to be part of a dog-fighting operation were seized yesterday by police in Huntersville, N.C., as part of a joint investigation with the ASPCA.

“We’re not going to put up with that in Huntersville,” Police Chief Cleveland Spruill said.

Officers have questioned residents of the home on Statesville Road, but have yet to file any charges.

In addition to seizing 23 dogs, a treadmill and other items commonly used to train fighting dogs were also taken as evidence.

ASPCA Director of Investigations, Kathryn Destreza, said that 16 adult dogs and seven puppies were tethered to heavy chains and removed from filthy conditions.

“That’s how they live their life,” she said. “If they’re not fighting or being conditioned to fight they live their life on the end of a chain.”

According to an ASPCA news release, “Some were thin and exhibited scars, bite marks, broken teeth and other injuries commonly associated with dog fighting … Dog fighting paraphernalia was discovered, including conditioning and training devices, indoor and outdoor fighting pits, and medication common to treating wounds associated with dog fighting.”

dogfightingHuntersville police said that after receiving tips, they obtained a search warrant for the property.

It was executed with assistance from ASPCA investigators and Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s animal control department.

Police Chief Spruill said the puppies will likely be able to be adopted, but that will have to be decided by a judge.

“The ASPCA’s goal is always to rehab as many animals we can from any criminal situation,” the ASPCA’s Destreza said.

Where the dogs were being taken was not divulged.

Destreza said numerous dogs chained in a back yard is often an indication that dog fighting might be taking place.

A woman who described herself as the dog owner’s aunt told WBTV in Charlotte that the dogs were being raised to be sold. She denied that they were involved in dog fighting.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact Lt. Andrew Dempski at 704-464-5400.
dogfighting3

(Photos: ASPCA)

Lost dog is found — even though dyed black

waffles afterA Cairn Terrier stolen from outside a grocery store in Seattle was tracked down by her owner — despite having been dyed black by the homeless woman suspected of the theft.

Waffles, a formerly blond and gray dog, is back home after police and a veterinarian determined she was indeed the same dog that Robert Lucier and his family had spent four days looking for.

“Thank goodness she had a microchip,” Lucier told the New York Daily News.

The family had put up posters and searched for the dogs since she was stolen last week, while briefly left tied up outside a grocery store.

On Saturday, Lusicer received a tip from someone saying he saw a homeless woman “washing the paint” out of his dog in a public bathroom at Seattle Center. Lucier hopped on his bike and began searching the area.

He saw a woman with a dog that strongly resembled Waffles — except for being solid black.

He confronted the woman, who insisted it was her dog.

Lucier remained suspicious, especially after he got close enough to the dog to detect the scent of chemicals.

He said he and the woman wrestled a bit, and that’s when three police cars pulled up.

wafflesbeforeBoth sides insisted the dog was their’s and a veterinarian was called in to check for a microchip.

Sure enough, the dog had one, identifying her as Waffles and Lucier as the owner.

She is back home now, and, after a few baths, still mostly black — but Lucier expects the coloring will fade away over time.

“She’s still shocked. She’s normally such a friendly, outgoing dog. She’s still walking around with her tail between her legs,” he said. “It’s going to take a little time for her to get adjusted.”

Waffle’s family decided not to press charges against the woman who he said “has bigger problems” to deal with.

Canines and equines being benign

In a big, impersonal, sometimes mean and generally hurried city, it’s nice to see creatures — especially those of different species — taking the time to get to know each other.

Maybe that (as opposed to it being a slow news day) is why Gothamist seems to be making a Labor Day tradition of presenting videos of dogs bonding with horses, police horses in particular.

This year’s “report” — and I use that term loosely — expands on the collection of videos the website presented about this same time last year — all featuring tender, or at least inquisitive moments between city dogs and police horses.

Perhaps best enjoyed without commentary, the 11 videos show dog-and-horse bonding, sniffing, and or licking — though not all were from the streets of New York. To see them all, go here.

Heat has killed 11 police dogs this summer

wix

If it seems you’ve seen a lot of stories about police dogs dying of heat exhaustion this summer, it’s because you have.

Since the last week of May, 11 police dogs have died from the heat, and nine of those cases stemmed from dogs left in hot police cars, according to the Weather Channel.

The 11 deaths this summer compare with four nationwide in 2014 and three in 2013, according to records kept by the Officer Down Memorial Page.

The latest death came last week in Kohler, Wisconsin, when a police dog named Wix (pictured above) died in a squad car as his handler worked at a PGA Championship event.

Wix died as the result of heat exhaustion after the air conditioning unit in the vehicle malfunctioned, and the heat alarm in the vehicle failed to go off.

Wix, a Belgian malinois, was on special assignment with his handler at the Whistling Straights golf course. His handler found him unresponsive in the vehicle when he went to check on him.

Several other police dog deaths this summer have been blamed on faulty air conditioners.

In Oklahoma, a Muldrow Police Department dog named Zeke died from heat exhaustion after the air conditioner in his handler’s patrol car malfunctioned.

His handler was inside the police station working on a case and left Zeke in the car for at least an hour. At some point the air conditioner malfunctioned and began blowing only hot air. His handler returned to the car to find him dead.

Zeke had served with the Muldrow Police Department for four years.

Two more police dogs died in the same incident in Hialeah, Florida; and in Jim Wells County, Texas, deputy Latham Roldan was fired from the department after the K-9 he left in his squad car died from the heat.

(Photo:Brown County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page)