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Dog Shot & Killed In Own Yard By Police During Search For Missing Toddler

Dog Shot & Killed In Own Yard By Police During Search For Missing Toddler

Last week, frantic parents in Utah called police reporting that their toddler was missing. The police arrived and immediately initiated a door-to-door search of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, during that search, an officer went into the fenced backyard of a neighbor, encountered a dog – and shot him twice in the head, killing him immediately. The toddler was ironically found about that same time, asleep in the basement of his own home.

Brett Olsen, the officer responsible for the deadly shooting, was a ten-year veteran of the Salt Lake City Police Department and said he shot the dog, a 110-pound Weimaraner, because it was displaying aggression.

Many Utahns feel the officer was overly trigger-happy and hundreds gathered this past Saturday outside the police department headquarters carrying “Justice for Geist” signs to show support for Sean Kendall, the owner of Geist, the dog killed last week.

“Itís overwhelming, the support of the community,” Kendall told a Salt Lake Tribune reporter. “That makes the loss of my best friend a little bit easier to deal with.”

Chanting crowds demanded that Officer Olsen be held accountable for inappropriate use of power. Postal carriers and animal control officers often carry pepper spray and many wondered why this was not used first in lieu of deadly firearm power. Rally participants were united in their call that firearms should be a last resort, not a first resort, when dealing with dogs.


Rally organizer and fellow dog lover Joy Dantine called upon the Salt Lake City Police Department to re-train officers on how to interact with dogs. Fortunately, the Utah Humane Society stepped-up immediately and formally offered to host the retraining. It is likely the Police Department will accept their offer.

In a recent letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, another dog lover asked:

How does it happen that postal delivery persons and animal control officers and police officers carry pepper spray, yet this officerís first response was to shoot and kill a dog who was doing what dogs do: barking at an intruder and guarding his space. That is in part why we love them.

In our highly connected world, this unnecessary shooting fortunately ignited debate beyond Utah and thus the silver lining in Geistís untimely death may be that a national discussion has commenced about how law enforcement really should handle pets that act aggressively.

Keri Bogardus, a Utah veterinarian and dog owner, said she hopes the incident inspires police to find less deadly resolutions for situations that seem at first threatening, but actually are not. “I handle a lot of what you might call aggressive dogs for my job, and thereís a lot of different things you can do to calm them down,” she said. “They can get protective in their own space when a stranger comes, but thereís no reason that something like this should happen.”

Photo Credit: Sean Kendall

Read more: Animal Rights, Behavior & Communication, Blogs, Community, Community Service, Do Good, Dogs, Feline Muse, Health & Safety, Home, Life, Make a Difference, Pet Health, Pets, Safety, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Cherise Udell

Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.


+ add your own
3:35PM PDT on Aug 4, 2014

Disgusting abuse of power, the cop needs to be held responsible for his heartless actions.

11:06PM PDT on Jul 25, 2014

Signed & shared...

11:26AM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

There is a video on youtube that was made my the owner as he confronted the cop still at the scene. Officer Olson had already left the scene. It also showed the back yard and where Geist was laying. The gate and fence were 6 foot plank fencing. Geist lay about 20 feet from the gate. All that cowardly officer had to do was step back and close the gate. No reason at all to shot Geist. I hope they kick his ass good.

9:30AM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

Signed the petition, it is not the first time this happen and not in one state but in many states , police men must be qualified to respect animals life and if with animals they did this so what they did and doing to humans , police must be for protecting citizens and animals not mercenaries kill when they feel fear

4:21PM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

Signed & shared . Officer Olsen should lose his job for what he did & face harsher penalties for his crime .Geist was not a threat & should not have been killed. Hopefully this will serve other to teach law enforcement how to better train there P.O's in the future.

12:17PM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

This man must found another job he is not capable

6:36AM PDT on Jul 21, 2014


what did the police expect - thats what dogs do!!!

take more care before busting into someone's back yard - and what about pepper spray!!??

just plain dumb

5:05AM PDT on Jul 21, 2014


5:02AM PDT on Jul 21, 2014


12:31AM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

That' a shame !!!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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