Dear Mayors, City Councils, Police Chiefs and Police Officers of the United States:
You fail to grasp the damage inflicted on communities when police kill pets. The wounds caused by the murdering of dogs and other family pets at the hands of police officers run deeper than bullets into flesh.
From Minneapolis to New York City to El Monte, California, police are unnecessarily, and in some cases wantonly, shooting and wounding and/or killing the family pets of citizens. Citizens that once believed people with badges were brave upholders of justice.
As the number of family pets shot by police adds up, it is causing damaged relationships beyond the families and friends of these pets. The stories and excuses are circulating in the news to the population at large. Most people are confused and horrified to learn that dogs on their tethers, dogs on their own front porch, dogs under tables and inside their kennels are shot because a police officer was scared.
Scared? Really? Of an elderly cocker spaniel? Of a five pound Chihuahua? Of a 4-month-old puppy? I ask you, as city leaders and fellow police officers, how could you trust someone who felt threatened in such situations to remain calm and in control when people’s lives are really at stake? People are not only worrying that their police officers are inadequate for the job, law-abiding citizens are beginning to worry if their pets could be next should they ever have to call for help. That fear feels very real as in case after case, police departments turn their heads away from these shameful acts and defend cowardly conduct as “protocol.”
What happens when police officers miss their intended victim? In North Carolina, an innocent dog owner was shot in the leg when police tried to shoot the dog standing by her side. In Minneapolis, a police officer was shot by a fellow police officer that was trying to shoot a dog. A bullet ricochet from a police discharged weapon wounded both a dog and a child in Mississippi and police shooting at a dog in Lima hit a pedestrian instead.
If the potential for friendly fire, injured citizens and damaged community relationships isn’t enough to convince leaders of the detrimental effects of police shooting pets, perhaps the potential for monetary damages will sway opinions. The incidence of successful lawsuits against cities and police forces following such shootings are mounting. In Minneapolis, a lawsuit was settled to the tune of $250,000 over the police shooting a family dog, right after another $25,000 settlement. In Iowa, Des Moines paid $51,000 for egregious police mistakes. La Grange, Missouri, also paid $51,000 and Marble Hill, Missouri, paid $145,000.
How many of those types of lawsuits could your community afford? Do you think the citizens of your city will be okay with picking up these bills? The madness needs to end and you can help to stop it. All police officers should undergo training to reduce these damaging incidents. They should face disciplinary action and potential for firing when they use deadly force when it’s unnecessary.
At what point will police and community officials admit that every effort should be made to reduce the carnage of police bullets on our communities? An easy place to start with that is to stop aiming them at pets.
Every incident, every dead and injured family pet at the hands of the police erodes community confidence in the supposed “protectors of the peace.” If mail carriers, pizza delivery workers and people of other professions who encounter strange dogs every day don’t need to shoot them, there is no credible excuse for police to do so. When ordinary citizens do shoot a dog, they’re often prosecuted for reckless discharge of a weapon and/or animal abuse. Why are police not held to the same standard?
Please stem the tide of dead family pets: Train your officers in dog behavior, dog emotions and non-lethal forms of diffusing these situations. The time and money investment in such training is a fraction of the potential lawsuits you may face. Not only will pets and pet owners be pleased, your taxpayers will thank you for it.
Minneapolis Pet News Examiner
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