Neighbors are divided and a Prairie Grove, Arkansas family has now filed a report against the Prairie Grove Police department responsible for the shooting death of Gunner, their family Boxer. Officer Michael Palmer was cleared May 29 after an internal investigation.
The incident occurred on May 24 when Palmer received a series of calls about a vicious dog running at large. Those who called were worried the dog would attack a group of children in the neighborhood of Colonel Solomon.
Palmer went on the call himself to the home of Amy Jones, where he ran upon Gunner, whom he said “barked and charged at him.” The officer hit the dog on the first shot, but was forced to fire two more shots to stop the dog. Gunner died on the way to Vinewood Animal Hospital.
In an interview with 5NewsOnline, Jones defended her dog stating “When Gunner turned to come to my house, the officer shot two more times, with people in the street. There are children in the street, people standing right there.”
Detective Jeff O’Brien said in an interview with ABC40/29 the shooting was justified. Neighbors who witnessed the shooting are torn in their interpretation of what happened. Some say Gunner was vicious, while others say the dog was only trying to play with the neighborhood children.
This isn’t your typical dog shot by police shooting. Gunner had a record for being vicious. The responsibility of this should fall on the Jones family, who have previously ran up a history of police visits to their property. The dog has been reported in the past for running at large.
Amy Jones has also been cited for harboring a vicious dog , possessing a dog without a license and leash law violations. The latter two offenses are against city ordinance.
Jones did agree that if Gunner had been attacking, police had every right to shoot her pet. But she insists that wasn’t the case the day Gunner was fatally shot. Gunner was her baby, and his death has been devastating.
There are several things to consider on a case involving a possibly vicious dog. One is did Gunner have to die because of the possible irresponsibility of the owners? Couldn’t a kinder alternative have been found?
Another issue that should be confronted is the negligence of the officer to approach the home, knowing a reportedly vicious dog was on-site, and not have a non-lethal method to contain the dog.
The Department of Justice has already released a report called The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters, where they state any officer who must use his weapon as a first line of defense is untrained. Shooting and killing a family dog should always be done as a last resort. A link to the PDF download can be found here.
It’s not the dogs fault the owners didn’t respect the role of dog ownership and follow city ordinance. Unfortunately, this case is an example in what can happen when a dog repeatedly escapes the property.
Now for the discussion question. Readers, do you feel the officer was justified in killing this dog? Or did the police department simply tire of making repeated house calls and decided to end the situation once and for all.
Does the family have the right to file suit, given the circumstances? Be sure to read the comments here before forming an opinion. This is a story that goes deeper than most this writer has reported on.
Your comments are welcome
For more of Elisa’s articles on dogs shot by police, click here.