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.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aldf, animal legal defense fund, animals, documentary, dog, dogs, epidemic, killed, killing, law enforcement, of dogs and men, officers, pets, police, shooting, shot, statistics
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.”)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 22nd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dog, dog shootings, dogs, duchess, florida city, investigation, law enforcement, mix, officer, pets, pit bull, police, police shooting dogs, questionable, questions, shooting, shootings, shot, surveillance, video
A dog in Montana took a bullet intended for his owner — a bartender in Hamilton who had apparently offended a customer earlier in the night.
Joe Lewis, 29, who cuts wood and serves drinks at the Rainbow Bar for a living, returned home from work early Saturday and carried his pit bull, Jackson, outside. The dog had recently had a toe removed and was wearing a cast.
While he was holding the dog four shots rang out.
The first hit the dog in the head. The second hit Lewis in the ribs and exited his back. He was treated at a hospital and released. His pit bull died. Lewis’ brother, Mike, said the first bullet would likely have struck Lewis in the head had he not been carrying the dog.
According to The Missoulian, Lewis had an altercation with a customer earlier in the evening. The customer ordered a “red beer” and became angry because it contained Clamato juice (rather than the more traditional tomato juice), which he said was contrary to his religion, Judaism.
According to court records, the customer, who is also a neighbor of Lewis, told another neighbor that he was going to retaliate and kill Lewis.
Monte Hanson, 59, has been charged with attempted deliberate homicide and animal cruelty,
Lewis’ family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses and buy another dog. By yesterday it had raised $3,200.
“Jackson was a purebred red-nose pit,” Mike Lewis said. “Those dogs are not easy to come by.”
(Photos courtesy of Lewis family)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 14th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bartender, customer, dog, dogs, hamilton, joe lewis, killed, montana, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rainbow bar, red beer, shooting, shot
That police in St. Clair Shores in Michigan saw killing a dog as the preferable way to stop her barking has been pretty well documented in dash cam videos that have become public.
As soon as they pulled up at the scene, their dashboard camera recorded remarks they were making inside their patrol car, like “The only thing I’m going to do is shoot it” and “I don’t do snares. I don’t do dogs … I’ll shoot the f—ing thing.”
But why there were 15 bullet holes in Lexie, a dog police officers only admitted to shooting four times, is a question that may go unanswered — at least until a federal lawsuit filed by the dog’s owner comes to trial.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, stems from the November 2013 shooting of Lexie, a 44-pound mixed breed who was the subject of a barking dog complaint filed by a neighbor.
Lexie’s owner, Brittay Preston, filed the lawsuit against the city of St. Clair Shores, two police officers and an animal control officer, according to Fox News in Detroit. It alleges a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure.
The lawsuit seeks money damages, and assurances that St. Clair Township police will “train their officers so that there’s not another incident where they respond to a barking dog complaint by killing it,” said Preston’s attorney, Chris Olson.
Preston was at work and the dog was under the care of a grandfather, who suffers from dementia and forgot to let Lexie back inside during a cold night.
Officers, after discussing their alternatives in the patrol car, approached the home and eventually persuaded the grandfather to let the dog in the house. After he agreed to do so, they shot the dog saying she lunged at them in a threatening manner.
Attorney Olson said the discussion recorded by the dash came shows the shooting was premeditated.
“Neighbors complained of a dog that was barking. [Police] showed up. The first thing that they said out of their mouths was they don’t like dogs; they don’t do dogs; they’re going to shoot the dog anyway. And that’s exactly what they did,” he said.
“Then they shot the dog again, instead of trying to take care of the dog, getting some care of the dog to prevent it from dying, they did what they intended to do. They made sure that the dog died. They shot it again, and then the dog walked into the animal control van and then when we picked up the dog it had extra bullet holes,” he added.
A necropsy conducted by a veterinarians found 15 bullet holes in Lexie.
Officers, after shooting and wounding the dog, can be heard discussing what to do next, including “choking it out” and “using a shovel,” according to the lawsuit.
One officer remarked that would be a bad idea because “you know this is going to be all over Facebook in about an hour.”
“We’re saddened when anyone loses a pet, but since the city and its employees are being sued, the city will certainly defend the lawsuit,” St. Clair Shores City Attorney Robert Ihrie said in a statement. “The complaint that was filed is filled with innuendo, speculation and half truths, and I have no doubt when it’s held up to the light of day, the truth will bear itself out in court.”
(Photo: from the Justice for Lexie Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 15 bullet holes, animals, barking, brittany preston, brittay preston, cam, complaint, conversation, dash, dashboard, dog, dogs, federal, Fourth amendment, justice 4 lexie, justice for lexie, killed, law enforcement, lawsuit, lexie, michigan, necropsy, nuisance, officers, pets, police, recorded, shooting, shot, st. clair shores
Maybe you can blame his owner — for not getting his front door fixed, and for not getting Raider fixed — but the 4-year-old Labrador mix was only doing what intact dogs tend to do, when the neighbor dog goes into heat.
The mutt went out the unlatched front door, and over to the home of a neighbor, who authorities say shot Raider twice when he caught him copulating with his prized purebred.
The neighbor, Randall Schexnayder, 51, of Metairie, was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana.
Raider is expected to recover from gunshot wounds to the muzzle and neck, according to his owner, Jim Hanley, 43. The dog disappeared last Wednesday, returning a few hours later covered in blood. Initially, Hanley thought Raider had been hit by a car, the Times-Picayune reported.
He took the dog to a vet, who told him Raider had been shot.
Hanley told the sheriff’s office who he suspected. A couple of neighbors had complained about Raider getting loose, and one had warned Hanley that he would take action if he ever caught Raider mounting his purebred dog.
When deputies called on that neighbor — Schexnayder — he admitted shooting the dog. He told the deputies he chased the dog off once, but when the dog returned, and attempted to mount his pet — whose breed wasn’t identified — he shot Raider twice with a .22-caliber pistol.
Schexnayder turned the gun and Raider’s collar over to authorities and was briefly jailed before being released on bond, according to the New Orleans Advocate.
Hanley, while not denying his dog accosted his neighbor’s purebred, said that doesn’t justify his dog getting shot.
“I understand that (a strange dog mating with a prize female) would be upsetting, but it would never cross my mind to pull out a firearm,” he said. “I think my first move would have been calling animal control. I mean, my Lord.”
Raider is named after the Archbishop Rummel High School Raiders.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 5th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeds, charges, cruelty, dogs, female, jefferson parish, lab, labrador, louisiana, male, mix, mount, mounted, mounting, mutts, neighbors, pets, purebred, retriever, sheriff, shooting, shot
If you think dogs don’t play a role in politics, consider Hooch.
Shot and killed by a police officer in February in the tiny town of Filer, Idaho, the seven-year-old black Lab is the force behind a petition to recall the town’s mayor and all four members of its city council.
Residents — and more than a few outsiders — are still angry over Officer Tarek Hassani’s shooting of the dog, recorded by his patrol car’s dashboard cam and since seen, thanks to the Internet, around the world.
In the video, he can be seen arriving to investigate a report of a dog on the loose, yelling and kicking at the barking animal, shooting it, and then confronting the dog’s owner in a belligerent (and that’s putting it nicely) manner.
An “outside” investigation found no wrongdoing on his part, and Hassani, on paid leave pending the results of the investigation, returned to regular duty this past Saturday.
On Tuesday, the effort to recall the mayor and council started, the Twin Falls Times-News reported.
After the shooting, there were demonstrations, and officials in the city of just over 2,500 people held public hearings that led to some changes, including scheduling training sessions for officers on how to deal with dogs.
“I think they’re going to do their best to make the recall work,” said Mayor Rick Dunn. “They only needed 20 (signatures) to start the process, and they’ve gotten that far.”
Gathering 20 signatures for each city leader’s recall petition is only a first step. Organizers now have 75 days to gather 201 signatures for each official — 10 percent of the number of voters registered in the last city election – to bring about a recall election.
An investigation by the Nampa Police Department, about 150 miles northwest of Filer, found the shooting was justified, but it did question why the officer didn’t stay in his vehicle, call the owner of the dogs or call for backup.
Town officials have scheduled a mandatory eight-hour training session on how to deal with aggressive dogs for Filer’s police officers on May 3.
Mayor Dunn said fallout from the shooting has placed the town in a bad light.
“I hate to see that,” he said. “Filer is a nice town: We have good staff, good people here. Give Filer a little more credit than this.”
(Photos: Top, Mike Preston and his wife, Brenda, sign a recall petition, by Ashley Smith / Times-News; bottom, citizens who, because of the size of the crowd, couldn’t get into a town hearing on the case in February, by Drew Nash / Times-News)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, black, cam, city council, dashboard, dog, dogs, drive, filer, hooch, idaho, killed, lab, labrador, mayor, officer, petitions, pets, police, recall, retriever, rick dunn, shooting, shot, tarek hassani, video
Did an Oklahoma police officer laugh after he shot and killed a family’s pit bull?
That’s what at least one witness reportedly told the dog’s owner.
Sarah Brown says a neighbor witnessed the March 19 shooting of her dog, Cali, by an officer with a shotgun.
After the shooting, she said, the neighbor heard the officer remark to an animal control officer at the scene, “Did you see the way her collar flew into the air when I blew her head off? That was awesome.”
The officer laughed after making the remark, the witness said in a statement provided to KFOR.
A Change.org petition identified the officer as Brice Woolley, of the Ardmore Police Department.
Police were responding to a call about a loose dog behaving aggressively near a park, and officials say the dog was shot to protect the public, KFOR reported.
“It was determined that the dog had to be euthanized for the safety of the nearby park and neighborhood as the dog’s owner could not be located, nor could it be captured,” a police report on the incident stated.
That — minus any immediate danger — would seem to make the police officer animal behaviorist, judge, jury and executioner, for what he dispensed surely can’t be described as “euthanasia.”
And his comment afterwards — if reported correctly — should earn him a desk job, far away from the public he says he was protecting.
Brown said her two-year-old dog, while she’s jumped over the fence and gotten loose before, has never behaved aggressively.
Police Capt. Eric Hamblin said that the officer has received death threats since the shooting, and that a review of the incident showed he acted according to protocol. He remains on duty.
“I don’t think it’s prudent, I don’t think it’s wise to wait until a dog who’s acting aggressive to actually bite somebody,” Hamblin said.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 26th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animals, ardmore, cali, cops, dogs, facebook, justice 4 cali, justice for cali, killed, killing, laugh, laughed, law enforcement, oklahoma, petition, pets, pit bull, police, shooting, shot, shotgun