Police getting death threats? Angry calls to an art supply store? Has the world gone mad?
It’s alarming to see how many people are willing to threaten another human being with violence over the death of a dog. The dog in question was Max, a Rottweiler. In my opinion, there was no reason for Max to be at a 2-hour stand-off. There was no reason for Max’s owner, 52-year-old Leon Rusby, to be walking so close to parked police cars. Other people had more sense than to do what he was doing. On the video I watched, you could hear the music playing from his car although he was being filmed across the street and the two people can’t believe that Rusby is doing what he’s going.
Let me tell you something about Los Angeles County for those people who are so confused that they have been blaming the Los Angeles Police Department or calling Swain’s in Glendale. The incident took place in the city of Hawthorne. Hawthorne is only safer than 23 percent of the cities in the U.S. Your chance of being the victim of a violent crime in Hawthorne is 1 in 135 compared to the California average of 1 in 243. By violent crime, one means murder, rape, robbery or assault.
Hawthorne has a higher crime rate than its neighboring cities of El Segundo, Gardena, Hermosa Beach, Lawndale, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance. The city Inglewood was rated at 343.9 compared to Hawthorne’s 360.1.
In 2011, Hawthorne rated a violent crime rate of 401.5 compared to the national average of 213.6.
There are things you learn in Los Angeles County. If you hear a lot of helicopters hovering, you should be careful. This likely means some high news incident is happening. It could also mean a police search. When I hear helicopters hovering near my area in the South Bay of Los Angeles, I usually stay in with my dogs.
Contrary to what you see on television, crime scene tape isn’t rarely put around a quickly developing situation. Often, the officers don’t even lock their patrol cars. That means Rosby was lurking in close proximity to unattended, possibly unlocked police cars. In a high crime area, that would make anyone nervous.
I’ve read several comments about how Rosby wasn’t breaking any law because there was no crime scene tape. This is ignoring the obvious: No other person who had gathered to witness the standoff was walking in the same area that Rosby was. On the video that I watched, you could clearly hear the music coming from Rosby’s car (no that isn’t a soundtrack to the movie of his life) and you can hear the two people filming making commentary about Rosby’s actions and not in a positive manner.
The three officers involved, not just the one who shot the dog, have received death threats. So let’s get this straight: People protest the killing of a dog as unnecessary by threatening to kill human beings? If killing three people is so easily justified, then how much easier is it to justify the killing of a pet?
People also suggested that a taser should have been used, somehow believing that a taser which is set for an adult human being would be less deadly. This is untrue. In June, a man died in Fallbrook after being stunned by a Taser. There are several cases of dogs dying from a Taser shock such as a healthy 50-pound male pitbull in 2005, a pitbull in the Chicago area died in 2012, and an American bulldog in the U.K. in 2010.
Theoretically, a Taser is set for the average male human being and that means a body mass of between 135 to 200 lbs. On the other hand, a Taser might only temporarily stun a dog.
Hawthorne is served by the LA SPCA in Hawthorne. The South Bay Adoption Center for the LA SPCA are Wednesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. For loose or vicious dogs, the local animal control office should be called during those hours. Generally, animal control services from other agencies outside of the city cannot intake animals from other cities. By Sunday at 7: 15 p.m. when the incident happened, the LA SPCA in Hawthorne was already closed. Perhaps there is after hours service, but from my experience in Pasadena with the Pasadena Humane Society and Los Angeles city with the Los Angeles City animal control, this is often not the case.
Animal control officers have vehicles especially designed for the transport of animals, usually dogs and cats. This is not true for most normal police vehicles. Among the tools used by animal control officers, especially for catching large dogs are catch or restraint poles. Police officers are not equipped with these. Unlike a Taser, the catch pole allows the animal control officer to be at a safe distance from the dog, lowering the risk of being bit.
Here’s a video of a situation in which the officer did get bit (by a pitbull), but was able to get a hold of the dog’s collar.
There are cases of animal control officers being attacked.
One thing that easily challenges the legitimacy of the protest and increases the association with hysteria in the form of mob mentality is the treats to Swain’s. For those unfamiliar with the geography of Los Angeles County, Hawthorne is on the west side of Los Angeles County. Glendale is on the east side. Both are separate cities.
Glendale has a crime index of 49 compared to Hawthorne’s crime index of 23. The closer the index number is to 100 means the safer a city is considered. Glendale (128.2) has a much lower crime rate than Los Angeles (277.4) or West Hollywood (465.0) and Hawthorne (360.1).
Swain’s Art Supplies was founded by Stanley Swain in 1949.
For those unfamiliar with how larger police department’s work. For public and community relations, the police department assigns a senior police officer to be the public face or spokesperson. In the case of Hawthorne Police Department, that person was Scott Swain. Swain is one of many people with that last name in the city of Los Angeles and one of many with the same given and surnames in the United States. Swain is no relation to Stanley Swain according to reports and Swain’s Art Supplies is no longer owned by the Swain family.
Some callers were reasonable, others were not. Threatening callers refused to hang up. The Glendale police department also received threatening calls and emails.
People unfamiliar with the Los Angeles area or even the concept of press relations officers decided to harass an art store, its employees and the totally unrelated police department of Glendale.
Los Angeles has a bad reputation regarding dog bites of postal carriers. Perhaps the same holds true for Hawthorne. California has three cities in the top ten dog bite list: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. The LAPD has, according to an LA Times article 23 incidents of officers firing upon animals, but the article doesn’t indicate if any of those shooting resulted in injury or death and how that compares to the per capita rate of the Hawthorne Police Department.
Hysteria isn’t pretty. Before you decide to sign a petition, consider a few things. Do you want to be associated with people who are recklessly threatening innocent people who have no association with the dog’s death such as the owner and employees of an art supply store? Or do you want to align yourself with people who are making hostile phone calls and disparaging remarks about police departments that had nothing to do with the incident? Do you want to support people who are making death threats to all three officers, harking back to lynch mobs that didn’t wait for a trial or a judge, jury or internal review?