Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dog Killing Commerce City Officer Faces Charges

Robert Price faced a judge for the first time since he shot and killed a restrained dog named Chloe on November 24th. He faces one count of aggravated cruelty to animals.

The Colorado Fraternal Order of Police are defending the actions of Robert Price, issuing a statement claiming Price is wrongfully accused. This is not surprising - police officers have historically defended the actions of other officers that have resulted in the unnecessary, needless, and sometimes cruel deaths of both humans and nonhumans.

But this response is interesting in light of the video that depicted the final moments of Chloe's life. It does not take a genius animal behaviorist to recognize that Chloe is safely restrained and no longer a threat. A catch-pole, often misused, is still very effective at keeping a dog 6' away from whomever is holding the other end. 

I would argue that Chloe was safely confined the second she stepped foot in that garage and that a variety of other methods could have been employed to further restrain her (shutting the garage door, using sno-fencing to corral her, used fencing to block off the garage opening and then waited until she calmed down, using a catch pole...oh wait).

I have used a catch-pole a couple of times. I have never used a catch-pole to lift a dog or drag a dog. But I have used one on an aggressive dog who weighed twice as much as Chloe. I am not an unusually strong woman, but I was able to ensure that the dog stayed 6' away from me. At no point did I feel that the catch-pole was insufficient in keeping the dog safely away from any of my body parts. I imagine an animal control officer, who is far more trained than I, should feel even more confident in her abilities to manage an aggressive or frightened dog at the end of a pole. 

Which is why I do not believe it was responsible, safe, or ethical to shoot Chloe in a residential neighborhood. An animal control officer was present and had Chloe safely restrained on a catch-pole. While the video does not show a close-up, it is still obvious that the woman has control over Chloe - she is holding onto the catchpole and is not being flung wildly about by Chloe. She does not have much time to do her job before Officer Price discharges his weapon into Chloe. It is as if Officer Price felt a woman animal control officer was incapable of doing what she does for a living.

But don't take my word for it. You are welcome to view the unedited video for yourself. Be warned, it is not pretty. A scared, frightened dog is cornered in a garage. She is not attempting to attack, bite, or otherwise harm any human being. She is in fact in a safe location - that garage door could have been easily lowered to trap her and steps taken to contact the homeowner to safely remove the dog.

You will see a deathly afraid dog tasered not once, but twice. She will twitch and writhe and finally be snared by the catch-pole, held by what appears to be a capable animal control officer.

And as she is led, she will rush past the officer - terrified - until she is outside of the garage and stuck at the end of the catch pole.

You will see no hesitation in Officer Price as he shoots to death a completely restrained, petrified dog. None. Again, at no point will you see Chloe try to bite, attack, or harm a human being. I may be misreading the body language of the animal control officer, but she does not seem that thrilled with Officer Price's reaction.

Judge for yourself. I am left asking why - with such evidence at our disposal - an entire Fraternal Order of Police decided to support Officer Price's actions. 

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