Last May a police officer hit a new low when he intentionally hit an Australian shepherd mix named Freckles with his car to stop him from approaching a group of children. He claimed he thought Freckles would harm them, but Freckles’ owner, Sarah Hecht, maintains that he was not dangerous and that he could have been stopped without using deadly force.
“I have no doubt my dog would still be alive if the officer had on iota of training on dog behavior and dog psychology,” Hecht, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. ”There was no reason for deadly force.”
In response to the incident with Freckles and many others that could have been avoided, Nevada Senator David Parks is planning on introducing legislation that will require police officers to complete training on how to deal with dogs without using deadly force, and he’s getting support from local animal lovers.
According to KTNV Channel 13 Action News, deadly force has been used against 18 dogs in the past three years with four fatalities last year and another six incidents with three deaths as of this September. One incident involved police shooting a dog named Bubba who was in his own yard, which was next to a home police were investigating.
Bill Cassell, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department called the number “statistically miniscule.” Though it might be, the incidents themselves are serious tragedies for those involved, and to call them a drop in a bucket is seriously offensive.
Gina Greisen, the leader of Nevada Voters for Animals, believes that each of them could have been prevented had police officers been provided with training. She plans to make the bill a campaign issue during the Clark County sheriff’s election next year.
Unfortunately, this issue isn’t confined to any one area. This week dog owners in Commerce City, Colo., marked the anniversary of the shooting death of Chloe. The horrifically inexcusable incident involving her death was caught on videotape by a neighbor and clearly demonstrates the need for more education. Following her death, Colorado took action and enacted the Dog Protection Act, which requires officers to undergo training that covers canine behavior and ways to deal with dogs that don’t involve lethal force.
According to the Review-Journal, Parks will be looking at Colorado’s law and what other states are doing as the legislation is drafted. He also noted that if animal control officers, U.S. Postal Service and private package carriers can handle dogs without killing them, that police should be able to do the same.
Others are also working to bring this issue into the national spotlight, hoping that attention will lead to better training for officers and fewer deaths. Directors Michael Ozias and Patrick Reasonover have set out to tell the stories of those who have been affected by these incidents, along with exploring their battles for justice, in a documentary called Puppycide.
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