Roseville, MI — For months, The Free Thought Project has brought international attention to a very serious problem of police on canine violence. With recent court rulings allowing police to kill citizens’ pets, simply for barking too loudly, law enforcement agencies now have no fear of retaliation for taking the life of man’s best friend. So this next story from Roseville, about a police involved incident dealing with a citizen’s pet, gets a pass, sort of.
On Sunday, a pit bull named Chewy’s owners called police after he escaped their backyard. Patiently, the police pursued the elusive dog for 90 minutes before resorting to tasing the dog in an attempt to get a control pole around his neck. Bystanders recorded cell phone footage of the incident. The video of the dog being tasered has now gone viral and sparked outrage on social media.
By Tuesday, residents were prepared to voice their concerns to the city council. At issue was how many times the dog had been tasered. Police Chief James Berlin told reporters, “The dog was tased one time. The other clicking you hear after the initial tasing is called an arch switch.” The arch switch emits a clicking sound which bystanders interpreted as additional voltage being delivered to the dog. “I don’t think that it’s very appropriate for a dog to be shocked,” said Steve Bodzar of Ann Arbor. Officials confirmed Chewy received only one shock, which lasted for five seconds.
At any rate, Chewy’s owners, who supposedly wished to remain anonymous, are happy to get their beloved pet back, alive and safe and sound. They told reporters they were more concerned that Chewy would be run over by a speeding car. But as The Free Thought Project has frequently reported, the couple had more to fear from police than from motorists. That’s because body camera footage and cell phone footage reveal the police are very trigger happy when it comes to shooting what they consider to be a vicious dog.
Killing an animal by discharging one’s service pistol is doing no service to society. If their jobs are to protect and serve, that role also extends to the citizens’ pets as well. There are hero cops out there, who get it, who aren’t afraid of barking dogs, who are properly trained and know how to intervene in a situation involving vicious growling dogs.
In a recent story, we highlighted one brave cop’s successful attempt at getting two equally vicious dogs into the back of his squad car. We applaud brave police officers such as he. And even for the unnamed officers in Roseville, we say thank you for not killing Chewy and getting him safely home. Even though you had to tase him to do it, at least you didn’t shoot the beloved runaway pet.
According to Petful, police officers lack the appropriate training in dealing with vicious animals. Officers are often in fear for their safety and they choose to shoot the dog, but Petful offers some helpful suggestions. They suggest police officers read the Department of Justice’s guide on dealing with animal encounters titled, “The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters.” Here are two excerpts from the guidebook.
In fact, dogs are seldom dangerous. [Around the same number of] people are killed by lightning each year than by dogs. Despite the increase in the number of dogs and people in the United States, dog bite-related fatalities are exceedingly rare and have not increased over the last two decades.
Dogs respond to us by communicating through their own body postures, facial expressions, and vocalizations. Without staring at [the dog’s face], the officer should look at the entire dog, checking both for behaviors that show the dog is uncomfortable and feeling threatened and for behaviors that signal comfort and friendliness. An officer should look quickly at the whole dog to get an overall impression of the dog’s state of mind.
With those ideas in mind, we at least encourage officers to use their tasers on vicious animals, instead of drawing one’s service pistol and killing the animal. Also, there may be other options to tasering a dog, such as coaxing the animals into a squad car, a locked fence, or offering the animal a distraction such as food, like the heroic officer in the video below.