On April 14, an Austin, Texas policeman was attempting to tend to a call regarding domestic abuse. What happened before he arrived is a horrific story to any animal lover.
He reported to the wrong address, where Michael Paxton was in his driveway getting something from his truck. When Paxton was ordered to raise his hands and keep still, his Cattle Dog, Cisco, started barking at Officer Thomas Griffin from the Austin Police Department. Griffin pointed the gun away from Paxton and moved it towards Cisco, while Paxton repeatedly told the officer that his dog was friendly and wouldn’t hurt him. Griffin aimed, shot and killed Cisco regardless, and Paxton witnessed the scene in anguish and shock.
While Officer Griffin continued to be kept on duty by the Austin Police Department, Paxton immediately started a Facebook page, “Justice for Cisco.” Barely giving himself time to mourn, he is driven by his desire to see that Officer Griffin be held accountable for his actions and other police officers in the department are trained in animal education, ensuring that no animals in the future suffer from needlessly being shot by the police.
I’ve written about a senior arthritic Labrador who was shot and killed by police in Oakland, CA. The officer didn’t understand canine body language and translated protective barking into what he assumed was threatening. As a result, the East Bay SPCA entered into a partnership with the Oakland Police Department and now provides free mandatory animal sensitivity training to the entire staff of 679 officers.
Personally, I think every police officer should be required to take animal sensitivity training classes before being given a gun. What humans interpret as threatening may simply be normal dog behavior. My very friendly Labradors, Sanchez and Gina, would bark profusely at someone entering their yard, I’m sure. And the barking would only be intensified if I was being held at gunpoint and they felt my fear. But, it doesn’t mean they are exhibiting aggressive behavior.
What do you think? Should Officer Griffin be held accountable for his actions? How can other peace officers learn from his mistake? Thanks for sharing your opinions in a comment below.
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