Archive for November, 2012

Michigan police officer who shot senior dog will not be charged

Michigan police officer who shot senior dog will not be charged

Cop Shoots Dog

The St. Louis, Mich. police officer who shot and killed a senior golden retriever named “Scout,” on September 9, will not face any charges for the dog’s death.

According to Saturday’s publication of CBS Detroit News, Gratiot County Prosecutor Keith Kushion found no legal reason to charge St. Louis police Officer Matt Vanhall for Scout’s death.

According to the prosecutor, Officer Vanhall was within his rights to fire his weapon because he was being “attacked.”

On the day of the shooting, Officer Vanhall fired his weapon at Scout at least seven times in the 8-year-old dog’s own yard.

Officer Vanhall defended his actions by stating that the senior golden had showed his teeth and growled at him.

According to the police report, Officer Vanhall had followed the dog to the yard after he was seen running at large.

Upon spotting the retriever inside of the yard, Officer Vanhall called for the dog to come to him – it was at that time that the officer alleges that the dog charged at him.

Following the horrific scene, a witness recounted what she saw,

“He just started shooting him, he just kept shooting him in the head,”

“I said, ‘What are you doing? He’s just a puppy!'”

Scout belonged to Brian and Hillary Goetzinger.

Initial story on this shooting at this link.

Des Moines couple sues police department for shooting dog

Des Moines couple sues police department for shooting dog

Submitted by Rose Egge, KOMO Communities Reporter
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, 3:33pm

Cops Shoot Dog

A Des Moines couple whose dog was shot and killed by police 2 years ago is now suing the department in federal court.

On Nov. 7, 2010, Deirdre and Charles Wright’s 115-pound, 3-year-old Newfoundland dog Rosie escaped their yard while the couple was away. A neighbor called 911 just after noon to report the dog was out, but did not say it was posing a threat to anyone.

Police arrived at the Wrights home one hour later to find Rosie sitting in her owners’ driveway. Dashcam video recorded one officer saying “You live here, don’t you?”

Another said “Hate to kill him in his own yard,” according to the Wright’s lawsuit.

After 10 minutes spent trying to catch Rosie with a catchpole, the lawsuit alleges one of the officers said “I say we just shoot him, kill him. He’s going to fight like a (expletive) once he’s tased. I can try to choke him out.”

Witnesses say the dog sat in the Wrights driveway until an officer tased her, and then she ran southbound. Officers are then heard saying “Let’s just go shoot her.”

The dog then ran into a neighbor’s fully fenced yard where officers shot her 4 times with an assault rifle.

The owner of the property Rosie ran into has said “If I would of known what was going on I would of told the officers to leave. The dog could of stayed there…for days.”

Dashcam video shows that after the first shot, one of the officers shouted “Nice!”

The Wrights say police violated their civil rights.

“This is completely unacceptable and, in my opinion, was malicious,” said the Wright’s attorney Adam Karp. “We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

But police have said Rosie snarled and lunged at them while they tried to corral the dog. The Wrights say Rosie never bit anyone and had never been declared vicious or dangerous or violated any animal control regulation.

An internal investigation cleared the officers involved of any wrong doing. The department is not commenting on this pending lawsuit.

See original story, and execution, here:

Commerce City, CO police shoot chained dog – CHLOE

November 26, 2012
By: Penny Eims

Cops Kill Dog

On Saturday, a dog in Commerce City, Colo. was shot and killed by police who responded to a dog at large call.

The police have stated that the dog, a Labrador retriever/pit bull mix named “Chloe,” was so aggressive that officers had no other choice than to shoot and kill her.

However, one witness saw something different from the officer’s recount of what took place, and that witness happened to be recording the entire scene on his cell phone.

According to Monday’s publication of the Coloradoan, Kenny Collins is the man who initially contacted the authorities about a strange dog in the neighborhood. He is also the individual who watched, and recorded what took place after the police arrived.

Chloe is first hit with a taser, then, as she attempts to run from the garage, she is caught by the catch pole.
Police shoot dog
Police shoot dogPolice shoot dog

Tragically, the dog, who appears to be terrified as she attempts to flee from those who have caught her, is then shot.

Not once or twice, but five times.

The authorities defend the shooting because they claim that Chloe was too aggressive to handle on the catch pole, and therefore, still dangerous.

The video seems to show a terrified dog who is determined to run away.

Making the entire situation more heartbreaking is the fact that Chloe was not a ‘random’ stray dog in the neighborhood. She was actually being cared for by a neighbor who was dog-sitting for a relative.

Chloe had somehow managed to slip out of the garage before the door closed and her dog sitter never saw her escape.

Collins told Fox2 News:

“I wish I hadn’t called, but like my kids keep reassuring me, I did what anybody else would do and that’s what the lady across the street said, whose dog was shot, that she would have done the same thing,”

The video taken by Collins has been turned over to the Commerce City Police for review.

I am human, if you see a typo, please let me know. Questions, comments or story ideas can be emailed to

Growing number of Facebook groups protest dog shootings by police

Growing number of Facebook groups protest dog shootings by police

Posted: Nov 29, 2012 9:09 AM EST Updated: Nov 30, 2012 4:18 AM EST
By Ray Downs – email

(RNN) – In response to an alleged increase in dog shootings by police officers, several people, including owners of murdered pets, are using Facebook as a tool to increase awareness of the problem and seek change to police policies toward dogs.

When Robbie King’s 6-year-old chocolate lab, Luke, was killed by a police officer responding to a call in September, he was devastated.

“It just crushed me,” the Smyrna, GA native said.

After he accidentally triggered his house alarm, King had to wait for police officers to arrive to let them know that there was not a break-in. But Officer G.M. Roach of the Cobb County Police Department went through the back of the house while King was waiting in the front, and they didn’t see each other until it was too late.

“A dog began to bark and came at Officer Roach. Officer Roach shot the dog,” said a police report.

“The officer never yelled for my dog to stop,” said King. “He didn’t shoot at the ground. He didn’t shoot in the air. He didn’t take out his baton … he just took out his weapon, pointed it at my dog, and killed him.”

He added: “I just think it’s ridiculous … you’ve never heard of a chocolate lab causing an officer’s demise.”

King’s story gained more local attention in part because an investigator allegedly misquoted a neighbor to make it appear that the dog was aggressive.

King’s sister and neighbor Cheryl Truelove told an investigator that the dog had bitten her and pointed to her calf to show the bite mark.

But when asked about her remark, Truelove said she was misunderstood.

“I told the detective that three weeks ago I was dog bit by a Chihuahua,” Truelove told the Marietta Daily Journal. “The reason I said that was because I was trying to point out to them that this little dog bit me and Luke never even bit nobody, and I didn’t take out a gun and shoot this dog.”

King’s story highlights several problems with dog shooting incidents: grief for pet owners, potential time and money loss, as well as bad publicity for police departments that have to deal with dog shootings – sometimes in court, and animosity between police and the public it is supposed to serve.

High number of shootings sparking outrage

Videos of dog shootings are all over the internet and it seems like there’s a new one every week. Unfortunately, the number of videos online is not a misrepresentation of the high number of dog shootings.

It’s impossible to determine the exact number of dog shootings by police officers because records aren’t kept by every police department in the country. However, in Milwaukee – the 28th largest city in the country – a recent lawsuit claimed that more than 400 dogs were shot to death by police officers over a nine-year period between 1999 and 2008, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

If those numbers are similar for cities around the U.S., a low estimate for the annual number of dogs killed per year by police in the 30 largest cities alone is 1,100.

In addition, a dog training manual for police published by the Department of Justice showed that most police shooting incidents involve dogs. In Los Angeles, at least one-half of all “intentional discharges of a forearm by an officer from 2000-2005 involved an animal,” the study said.

“I was completely unaware that this was going on myself until it happened to me,” King said. But once he set up a Facebook page called “Justice for Luke,” he joined a growing number of people who are using the social networking site to get the word out about dog shootings.

According to the website Cops Shooting Dogs, there are 88 Facebook pages that aim to bring awareness to a particular dog shooting incident.

Many of the pages start out as an outlet for the angry and grieving owner whose dog was killed, but progress into a sort of a virtual meeting place and newsletter for people interested in everything from other dog shootings to charity fundraisers and stories about police saving dogs.

Although the groups are not officially united, there is a loose network consisting of several of the Facebook page creators, according to Denise Lachance, the creator of the Facebook page “Dogs Shot by Police.”

Lachance says that the goal is not to demonize police, but to encourage police departments to require that officers have dog training.

“It’s primarily a matter of local law,” Lachance said, pointing out that getting a single mandate passed in every police department will be a difficult process.

“But you can also get attention to something by making it more visible.”
Increase in training could lead to reduction in dog shootings

Donald Cleary, director of Communications and Publications for the National Canine Research Council and one of the authors of the dog training manual for police published by the Department of Justice, says that dog training is crucial.

“Police departments can be severely embarrassed when they’ve shot a dog, and in the aftermath it looks like there was no reason why that dog was shot or there were people there who have a very different version of what police had initially reported,” Cleary said.

That embarrassment also translates into expensive lawsuits. Police departments around the country have been successfully sued by owners whose dogs were killed, including a case 2007 in which the city council of Richmond, CA paid $210,000 to a couple whose pit bull was shot, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In that incident, a passerby was injured after one of a stray bullet grazed her neck. Stray bullets as a result of dog shootings are a real danger, according to Jim Osorio, Senior Law Enforcement Specialist at the National Humane Law Enforcement Academy, which trains police departments in how to handle dogs.

“Stray shots are a liability,” Osorio said. “It’s already hard to shoot a moving target, but when they’re lower, it’s harder to hit them.”

Osorio has trained police departments in Fort Worth, TX, Atlanta, and other cities around the country. He says more departments need to implement training because many officers have little to no experience with dogs, which increases the danger.

“Police need that experience because in the U.S., one out of three houses has a dog usually,” Osorio said. “Just because a dog barks, doesn’t mean it’s an aggressive dog. So they need to know all the signs and the body language.”

Osorio added that although there has been an increase in police departments requesting dog training over the last five years, budget cuts have hindered some of that progress. Nonetheless, he believes more police will be trained to deal with dogs.

“It’s going to be a slow process, but I see a lot of changes coming,” he said.

Robbie King hopes that by bringing the issue to the attention of more people, progress will come sooner rather than later.

“I’m hoping that we, as victims of this thing, can get together and be a stronger, bigger group because the nation needs to know about this,” he said.

On leash and with owner present… Cop kills dog

Pet owner waiting for answers in fatal dog shooting
Tue, 11/20/2012 – 2:22pm | Mary Schenk

CHAMPAIGN — Kathy Saathoff is most anxious to find out why a Champaign police officer felt the need to break up a dog fight Saturday with a gun.

Police Chief Anthony Cobb said members of his department are working to find out the same thing.

“We should have everything resolved pretty quickly,” Cobb said of the incident Saturday night in west Champaign that left Saathoff’s chocolate Labrador dead and the pit bull that attacked it locked up, still unclaimed by an owner.

About 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Saathoff’s daughter, Kelsey Markou, 18, was walking their Labrador, named Dog, near the corner of John Street and Crescent Drive.

“She had just turned the corner onto Crescent and was heading south back to our house,” said Saathoff, who lives across the street from Centennial High School. “A pit bull came from across the street from the apartment complex on the corner of John and Crescent.”

The pit bull had no collar or tags. She doesn’t know who owns it and said neighbors had also seen it previously but never with a person.
Saathoff said her daughter was trying to hurry back home with Dog, who was on a leash and wearing a pinch collar, when the pit bull started moving aggressively toward him.

“My dog is not a fighter. He’s a cuddler, a sweet dog who loved to play with other dogs. He’s never aggressive to other dogs. He probably didn’t know what to think at first,” she said of the 5-year-old Labrador that her family has had more than four years.

When the pit bull started going for Dog’s throat in a field a few yards from the street, Saathoff said, Kelsey reacted.

“She didn’t have a phone on her at the time. She’s kicking the pit bull trying to get it off. There wasn’t a lot of people out. A gentleman walking … called 911 and he came over and tried to kick the dog,” Saathoff said.

Saathoff said Kelsey eventually let go of Dog’s leash because the pinch collar was keeping him from defending himself.

When the police arrived, Saathoff said, Kelsey told the officer which dog was hers and where the pit bull had come from.

“He got 5 to 6 feet away from the dogs and just started shooting at them,” Saathoff recounted what her daughter had told her.
Although the number of shots fired has not been released, Saathoff said her daughter estimated there were eight.

Dog was hit in the neck by one of the shots and died there. An animal control officer got the pit bull and took it to the county animal pound where it’s been since Saturday night.

“He’ll be held for seven days to see if an owner comes forward to claim him,” said Stephanie Joos, director of Champaign County animal control.

The dog sustained injuries, she said, but remained in stable condition Tuesday. If no one claims the dog, it will be euthanized, Joos said.
Saathoff said her daughter ran home to get her after the shooting. They took Dog to the University of Illinois veterinary clinic, where she said a necropsy was done.

“Our dog died from a gunshot wound. Our dog didn’t die from a dog fight,” she said of the preliminary results her family received from the veterinarian.

Saathoff said her family wants to know why the officer felt he needed to use a gun to break up a dog fight, especially knowing at least one of the dogs was a family pet.

“Our biggest issue is that we don’t understand why there weren’t other non-violent means tried first,” Saathoff said.

She said Kelsey told her she did not feel personally endangered by the pit bull and that the dogs were tangling in the field at the southwest corner of the intersection, a few yards away from the sidewalk and street.

“I want them to be accountable and really look at the way the situation was handled. We’re traumatized and I have a daughter that’s going to be traumatized the rest of her life. She’ll never forget it. She hasn’t been sleeping. That’s a hard pill to swallow,” said Saathoff.

Cobb has declined to identify the officer who fired the shots while the police are working on their internal investigation. Any time a duty weapon is discharged, there is a review to see if the officer followed departmental policy, the chief said.

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