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


Amy L.
Amy L2 years ago

So the officer encountered a dog in the backyard - doing it's job - acting like most dogs do when they encounter an unauthorized human in their territory! So rather than closing the gate and going into the next yard and looking in the backyard from another vantage point he chooses to kill the dog. What a dumbass. He's now killed someone's family member. Pissed the world off and he didn't even find the kid himself!

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton2 years ago

This police officer should be punished for going into some ones yard and killing a persons dog.

Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore2 years ago

Jana D.: The pepper spray was not used because cops are getting too goddamned trigger happy. End of story about why.

Petition signed.

Christine Jones
Christine J2 years ago

So sorry this terrible thing happened, and it seems to be happening a lot in the USA. I hope at least some good comes out of it with appropriate training.

Darren Woolsey
Darren W2 years ago

Petition signed.
Police are a little too gun-ho:

Do you think the officer should be held responsible for inappropriate use of power

leaning no
leaning yes

Kristina Craig
Kristina Craig3 years ago

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

Malaka W.
Malaka W3 years ago

Signed & shared...

Else G.
Else G3 years ago

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.

Ismail A.
Ismail Al ahmad3 years ago

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

J D.
Janice D3 years ago

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.