Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Vicious"

A cop shot a dog today right in front of my friend's car as we were driving to the grocery. The dog was deemed "vicious" by someone along the line of reporting it being loose. It killed a cat - it didn't tear up the cat, it must have snapped its neck (easy enough to imagine if the dog and cat were fighting, have you ever seen a dog thrash a toy back and forth? And cats can attack dogs, truly viciously!). The cat death was reported to the police and the dog was loose. An officer pulled up to the scene. My friend and I had been behind the cop car and it was going slowly. We approached a stop sign, so the cop car gained some distance on us. Shortly after, we found that the officer had pulled over and jumped out of the car. The dog came towards the officer, who shot it. I did not see the shot fired - I was looking out the side window, but I turned and looked right after the shot and saw the gun smoking, still raised and pointed in the dog's direction. My friend saw the whole thing because he was driving and so obviously he was looking ahead. The dog yelped repeatedly as it ran away.

VERY shortly after, Animal Control arrived, along with several squad cars and a paddy wagon (?! it must have been in the neighborhood...?) There were at least 10 cops (isn't that a lot for a dog? I guess 'cause the policeman fired a shot?). A copalopter was also sent and flew back and forth overhead. The cops were wandering the neighborhood, some with guns drawn, some with what could have either been rifles or tranquilizer guns. After a bit they all stopped looking. The cops stood around in a circle and were laughing and smiling for a while. Right after one of them used a gun. to shoot a dog. in a heavily populated area.

The dog was someone's pet and was wearing a collar. The owner of the dog came out or was located and they interviewed him. The cops had been told it was a pit bull but it was actually a mutt. I am not sure how the dog got out in the first place, but by the time it was found it was so un-"vicious" that they were able to leash it, and after being interviewed, the owner was able to pick it up and carry it to his van, where he put it in and drove off to take it to the vet. There was a lot of blood on its back left paw, so I assume that's where it was shot. Neither Animal Control nor any police officers accompanied the owner to the vet's offce. Boy howdy, that was some dangerous dog, right? I took videos and pictures of as much as I could in case I wanted to post it to Copwatch or share it later somewhere else.

For a while I was really offended because I didn't know what was going on with the circumstances of the dog. It's more understandable now that I know that the dog was only shot in the paw (assuming the police officer was telling the truth that it "charged" at him aggressively instead of just running towards him LIKE MANY DOGS DO WHEN THEY SEE PEOPLE). My friend who saw the dog come out was not able to tell whether it was charging or trotting to say hello or what - I don't think he saw its face very clearly before it was shot, so he wasn't really able to tell whether it was baring its teeth, etc. For sure it did approach the officer somehow. Perhaps the laughing and smiling when the other police officers came was to lighten the situation if the officer felt sad or troubled. And we were told that the dog would not be put down.

However, I'm still disturbed, because this whole thing means one or more of the following things:
  • "Shoot the dog first and ask questions later" is a perfectly reasonable police response when someone reports a "vicious" animal, and upon sight of the dog the police would rather jump out of their car, solitary, and wound the dog with a pistol (potentially crippling or killing it) than find out more information about it or wait for Animal Control and/or tranquilizers to arrive.
  • I have a STRONG suspicion that the officer's reaction to the dog coming towards him was at least in part due to the dog's supposed breed. This displays a lack of understanding about the breed. Besides, upon seeing it even I was able to tell it was at most only part pit bull. Obviously he got a good look at it because he was able to shoot it only in the foot/leg.
  • The dog was "vicious" enough to be shot but not "vicious" enough for Animal Control to even take it in or quarantine it. That means that it's standard procedure not to test all dogs deemed "vicious" for rabies or to quarantine them. The Animal Control officer got out that pole with the loop around it to catch the dog but didn't use it. I know that quarantining the dog for observation is sometimes done when a dog attacks a human (instead of simply putting it down). The fact that the owner was able to drive the dog to the vet afterwards, with no intervention from Animal Control, is possibly the most frightening part about the whole thing. Were this dog to be "vicious" from infection and/or "vicious" because of its upbringing, either way, the owner, the vet, and the neighborhood could still be at risk.
  • It happened literally up the street from my house. Had we been seconds later, my friend could have hit the dog or the car/we could have been shot/the dog might not have come at the officer at all. Funny how on a street where several people were sitting on their porch or walking down the street, this dog specifically supposedly selected to "charge" at the COP... Some people who were on their porch said that it had gone by them earlier but chose not to approach them. But, you know, it was so hungry for human blood, I'm sure.
  • Before we knew all the facts, we were questioning why the dog was shot. A couple of the other witnesses said there was no problem with shooting the dog. They basically had this "cops are never wrong" attitude, which shows a complete lack of education. These people were able to say what they witnessed before us and they actually LIED to the investigating lieutenant and said that WE approached the officer and were giving him a bunch of shit. and the lieutenant believed them! I don't know if we ended up even convincing her that they were full of shit.
  • Should my dogs ever get loose, these are some of the same cops that might respond to a call since it's the same neighborhood... My dogs will often jump up on people to say hello (we're working on it) and sometimes show a bit of aggression (towards only other dogs) when leashed. They always end up rolling over or playing once they are able to sniff the other dogs. Would some ignorant/fearful person report my dogs for being "vicious?" And are the cops just going to believe whatever they say? One of the dogs gets along with cats very well, but one of them doesn't. What if that one got loose somehow and was attacked by a cat??
  • I realized that my trust in the police is MUCH less than I thought it was.
I know it sounds dramatic, but I'm kind of still traumatized / in shock.

When the owner was carrying the dog to the car and was placing it gently into the van, he said in a soft voice something along the lines of, "You did a stupid thing this time." It made me really sad for some reason.

I am going to go have a good long cuddle with my dogs.

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