Police Puppycide

Co-authored with Dr. Q

While there are plenty of pet-lovers who like to think of dogs as “man’s best friend,” many police officers seem to have a different opinion on the matter. As one police officer put it back in 2008, “It’s just a dog. You can buy another one.” The officer made this comment while detaining a motorist who was trying to drive his choking dog to an emergency clinic. The dog died while the officer berated the man, accused him of being on drugs, and asked him if he “want[ed] to go to jail.”

Unfortunately, denying medical care to dogs isn’t enough for some police officers. Many prefer a more… active approach the ending the lives of other peoples’ furry companions.

While Cop Block has been active, we’ve covered several stories in which police have attacked and/or killed dogs. Back in April, we linked to a story about two teens who were injured by bullet fragments after a trigger-happy cop shot their dog. Adam called a Missouri police department back in May after a video was released of their SWAT team killing two dogs (one of which was apparently caged) while conducting one of their ultra-violent no-knock drug raids. In June, we discussed a story about another dog killed in a drug raid. We also started a call flood after a video was released of two Missouri officers slaughtering a dog for no apparent reason.

But the number of puppycide stories in the news that we’ve heard about in just in the last month is shocking.

Here’s a handful.

In February a police officer in Commerce City, Colorado was responding to an accidental 911 hang up call when she walked into a families’ fenced in front yard and brutally murdered their beloved 35lb dog, Zoey while the family looked on. The grieving family has filed suit against the city.

The officer, Suzanne Barber, was in possession of pepper spray but chose to use her firearm because she stated that she “felt her life was in danger”.

In July, Mendocino California’s Major Crimes Task Force and a Willits California police officer murdered an 8-year-old family dog named Tonka. They were serving a search warrant, but the search turned up nothing.

According to resident Anna White, Tonka’s owner, the police shot her pet while it was in a fenced area on her front porch. “We found the shell casing outside by the fence area. Tonka then ran into our house, got onto my bed and died.”

White described her bedroom following the search, claiming Tonka’s body had been dumped from the bed onto the floor and items from her room dropped onto the body and into the dog’s blood. “They destroyed our house and found nothing,” says White. “Tonka lived long enough to die on my bed, which we shared each night.”

The Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force Commander, Bob Nishiyama, claims that “the dog charged down the stairs, barking and snarling at the officer, who fired in self-defense.”

Also in July, an officer in Riverdale, Georgia shot and killed Stacy Clark’s dog while aggressively responding to a false alarm from a home security company. This officer also had the option of using pepper spray but chose not to because he “didn’t have enough time to grab” it.

Police officers said they thought there was a holdup at the house. When they arrived, Clark’s dog, Jadore, came running out and one officer didn’t have enough time to grab his pepper spray, police said. He reached for his weapon instead, police said.

Clark said Officers asked everyone in the house to step outside, and three of them were ordered to the ground and handcuffed. Police removed the handcuffs after verifying their identities.

That’s when Clark noticed Jadore wasn’t moving, he said. When Clark asked what happened, he said he was told, “I shot it. Just point blank, I shot it.”

In the first week of August, an off duty federal officer in Maryland shot and killed a Husky in an off-leash dog park while he was walking his German Shepard with his wife.

Stunned dog owners and residents of a Severn neighborhood are shocked that authorities won’t be charging a federal police officer who shot and killed a Siberian Husky Monday night at a community dog park.

Bear-Bear, a brown and white Husky that’s about three years old, was playing in the Quail Run dog park at about 6:30 p.m., running off leash inside the fenced-in area, when the officer and his wife arrived with a German Shepherd, who was kept on a leash. When the dogs began to play roughly — the federal officer asked Bear-Bear’s guardian, his owner’s brother, to call off the dog. But before he could do anything, the officer pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear.

Bear-Bear, who belongs to Rachel Rettaliata, died of his injuries a few hours later.

Initially the police had no intentions of filing charges against the federal officer, but after an outpouring of community outrage, the case has been reopened, even though the police still refuse to release the name of the officer who fired the shot.

And finally, again in Maryland, sheriff deputies from Prince George’s county shot a family dog, Cato, while serving an eviction notice.

In two of the above cases, the police had no business being on the dog owners’ property. In the first instance they were clearly uninvited and in the second they were there with the approval of a man in a robe to look for plants that legislators have deemed forbidden. The dogs were not the aggressors, they were serving their owners by protecting their property from intruders. They are heroes. They were doing what the police purport to do, but actually do very little of: protecting life and property.

In all of the above cases the officers responded to fear with brutal, lethal violence. If we are going to allow a group of people to pin pieces of metal to their chests and strut around demanding that we “respect their authority” all while they are heavily armed, shouldn’t we expect them the be able to respond to even legitimate fear without always resorting to the most violent and lethal response possible?

Is officer training so inadequate that they are incapable of a using a non-lethal response when encountered by a big, scary dog? When I was an avid runner, I encountered big, scary dogs on a regular basis. At one time I read an article in a running magazine about how to deal with such encounters. The advice in this article worked every time and in years of running I only had to resort to physical force one time.  If I can learn how to deal with dogs by reading one small article in a magazine, surely the police that be trained to do the same.

Studies have shown that sociopaths and bullies are likely to have abused animals during their childhood and often continue to do so into adulthood. Are these officers who murdered these beautiful animals sociopaths or just cowards? We can’t be sure, but either way they are unfit to be police.

Update by Dr. Q: Police have released the name of officer who shot Bear-Bear and prosecutors have charged him with two misdemeanors. The officer, Keith Shepherd, has been charged with animal cruelty and discharging a firearm within 100 yards of an occupied home. See here for details.


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Paula Parmeley Carter

Paula is a Staff Writer at CopBlock. She advocates ending the monopoly on policing and protection services. When not writing at CopBlock she enjoys being a wife and mother, reading and drinking good beer.