Monday, May 10, 2010

How Long Is Too Long Before Animal Control Shoots A Dog?

I plan on blogging about another dog shooting that was in the news last week, but I need to gather my thoughts on it.

Let's go to Cabarrus County, North Carolina.

Two dogs escaped their fenced yard while their guardians/owners were at dinner. The dogs, named Bella and Jaxson, ended up in someone's yard. The woman was apparently so frightened by two nonviolent dogs, she called police.

Police arrived and spent about an hour trying to catch the dogs. Jaxson was caught easily. Bella was more skittish and evaded capture with a greater tenacity.

This is when police should get their stories straight.

According to one officer, he heard the dog was charging and snapping. He wasn't a witness to the supposed charging and snapping or the shooting.

A mere line later, we get this gem: " Archer (the aforementioned officer) says his deputy, Sean Austin, never witnessed the animal act aggressively toward adults or children nearby, but he chose to shoot and kill it. "We couldn't do anything with the dog, we had to finally make a decision,” says Archer."

Make up your mind, Archer. Either the dog was charging and snapping or your animal control deputy was too lazy to try and catch the dog and, instead, just shot her dead.

According to witnesses, this is what happened: Bella was shot while running away from the deputy. She was not acting aggressively. She wasn't snapping or charging. This is verbal witnesses and one written statement.  Here is a Facebook note with witness statements from three different witnesses, including the woman (a police officer) who called police. All stated the dog was nonviolent, not aggressive and was frightened. 

The best part is this - the owner of the dog, upon arriving home to find his dog had been shot dead, approaches the shooting officer and, bless his smart head, videotapes his questions.

The video shows Daniels saying "But you said that she didn't show any aggression toward you, you know? You told me that. She didn't show any aggression...why can't you..." Austin is seen in the video saying, "I'm not sitting there for three hours when I got calls in!” Daniels then asks, "So what's your time limit? Is it 20 minutes? Is that what it is?"
I'm not sitting there for three hours when I got calls in.

Here's the video. The officer shows absolutely no remorse for gunning down a frightened, nonviolent, family pet. He is not apologetic at all for killing the dog of the two people in front of him.

I get you got calls, Austin. I understand it's quite irksome chasing down an dog who doesn't want to be caught. Truly, I do.

But really?

So long as the dog is not eating people or other animals. So long as she is safe and sound. So long as you are employed in the animal control division, you damn well better avoid using a freaking lethal weapon to solve a problem like Bella.

Bella's owner has retained an attorney. I am not an overly litigious person, but this seems like a good idea. The officer abused his power. A dog's life was taken. A dog who had done nothing wrong, except explored her outside world a bit. She did not deserve this at all.

And for an animal control officer to disregard his duty to help animals (while protecting public safety) and kill a nonviolent, non dangerous pet is utterly offensive. He should not be working with animals. Period. Probably shouldn't work with humans, either, not if his odometer for when to stop chasing and start shooting is 40 minutes.

1 comment:

Retrieverman said...

It is going to be tough to get a legal remedy for this situation. I guarantee it. The burden of proof is going to be so nebulous. I assume the tort is going to be based upon abuse of authority.

It is a shame that this happened.

I think that maybe the animal control officers need a really good course in animal behavior as part of their job.

Gosh I wish this were France.

France is a paradise for dogs (although they do have a strict control on certain so-called "dangerous" breeds of dog-- I think you know what those are.)