American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2013 Digital Edition - Page 22

COPTALK opinion and facts from the mean streets massad ayoob when cops shoot dogs n July 24, 2012, deputy sheriffs in Benton County, Washington had to overpower and arrest a man who had been riding a bicycle through his neighborhood, not only carrying nunchuks but wielding a running chainsaw, and telling people he was going to kill someone because police had killed his dog. Ya can’t make this stuff up, folks. According to the Seattle Times of 7/26/12, deputies had originally been called to the guy’s home “at the request of the state Department of Social and Health Services and Richland police, to check on a domesticviolence victim … Deputies were told the woman had called for help and was in tears.” The story continues, “The deputy found the front door open. An aggressive, 40- to 50-pound dog then ran out, straight toward the deputy, and no one inside tried to call it off … The deputy rushed away backward, pulled his gun and shot the dog once, killing it.” The owner of the dog apparently did not handle the aftermath well. While this suspect was a bit weirder than most, the fact is when you have to shoot someone’s dog, almost nobody handles it well. This guy is armed: just look in his mouth. o olice defense attorney Laura Scarry noted this year in an excellent presentation at the annual conference of ILEETA, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, negative publicity and lawsuits over police shootings of aggressive dogs are on the rise. I sat in that large class and noticed how many cops in attendance nodded affirmatively as she spoke. “Backlash” against police use of deadly force on canines is definitely increasing. There’s at least one website devoted to us evil JBTs (“jack-booted thugs”) who supposedly murder beloved family pets. In the year 2010, there were 30 incidents in which New York City Police Officers used their guns to defend against animal attacks, in comparison to 33 incidents in which they had to defensively fire at human beings. The figure comes from that year’s SOP-9 report, Standard Operating Procedure Number Nine being the intensive analysis of every discharge of an officer’s weapon outside of the training range; a study that has been in effect for more than four decades. Twenty-nine of those 30 cases involved dogs, and the remaining incident involved a raccoon. In several of those incidents, someone was bitten before the shots were fired. Sometimes an innocent citizen, sometimes a cop. When cops shoot dogs there is generally a very good reason. to keep up with the chase, and other cops caught the suspect. They later recovered the Hi-Point .40 the suspect ditched during the foot pursuit. Who knows, perhaps the sound of two shots made him divest himself of the gun, and saved his life, and/or the life of the cop he might otherwise have shot with it. The dog’s owner was apologetic, horrified his animal had injured the officer, who is still recovering from some very severe dog bite damage to his leg. The officer felt bad about shooting the dog: he understood the animal was just “doing its job.” These things happen. My old friend Dan Marcou, a retired SWAT cop and current police trainer, notes some SWAT teams bring one officer with a dog capture noose just to avoid this sort of thing. Trouble is, in these grim economic times with police layoffs and even police departments being disbanded due to lack of funds, the budget is often not available to provide additional personnel for this function — or training. There are no easy answers to this controversy. The cops already know people love their dogs. The dog owners need to understand the cops’ side of it too. P ScoPe of the Problem Old Yeller Effect I IdpA National championship, 2010: The shooter on the back of the truck must pick off “vicious dogs” attacking the waving upright “no-shoot” target. n the famous old Disney movie Old Yeller, there wasn’t a dry eye in the theaters when the young boy had to shoot the dog he loved. It wasn’t Old Yeller’s fault he’d turned rabid. He was bitten protecting the family from rabid wild animals. That, really, is the sad dynamic in so many necessary shootings of dogs: it wasn’t the dog’s fault. But, just as it wasn’t the boy’s fault in the movie he had to shoot Old Yeller, it isn’t the cop’s fault, either. A fellow I correspond with is a cop in Texas. Recently, he and other officers were chasing a suspect on foot, and the pursuit went onto someone’s property. The owner kept dogs in his back yard to protect his family from crime. One of those dogs, a pit bull, sank his fangs into the leg of the officer in question, using all the force for which that breed is famous. The officer reflexively drew his Glock and pumped a couple of bullets into the dog. There was no other way to make the animal relax its crushing jaws. Delayed by this bloody encounter, the officer wasn’t able * 22 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JANUARY/FEBRUARY2013

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