With beloved family dogs killed impulsively by trigger-happy cops, a canine-friendly group feels it’s time for the Obama Administration to prevent this outrage by federal legislation.
Loose dogs may scare some people, but loose cops can tear families apart with fear and grief. More often than not police officers raiding a house, sometimes the wrong one, don’t hesitate in shooting down family dogs outside or even inside the owner’s house, killing them in cold blood with the clichéd excuse of shooting the canine in self defense. Then there also have been reports of police K9s dying while their officers left them in a hot patrol car. Such cases of cops killing dogs, in action or by neglect, led to the creation of the Facebook group K9 Partners of Monroe County, which is petitioning the White House to make it mandatory for police officers to undergo special training for handling dogs non-lethally. Founder and administrator of the group Eddie Cintron tells more about this initiative.
Ernest: Eddie, we frequently hear of cops shooting dogs not only outside but in their homes. How serious is this problem?
Eddie: Yes, this is a common occurrence that happens every day and many go unreported where there is a no-knock warrant or an officer simply has come to the address where there is a dog and come to find out they were at a wrong address to begin with and the dog ends up being shot inside the house. In Wayne County in Upstate New York, just recently, the Drug Task force forced a 75-year-old grandmother to the floor after executing a no-knock warrant, which is illegal and the woman having serious health issues was told to close her eye and they shot her dog where the dog bled all over the house dying in his doggie bed. This is how bad it's gotten. A Maryland mayor is asking the federal government to investigate why SWAT team members burst into his home without knocking and shot his two dogs to death in an investigation into a drug smuggling scheme. The mayor indicated that police are not to re-write the constitution and they found out that the judge did not sign the warrant.
Ernest: Why do you think the cops pull the triggers on dogs this way?
Eddie: Simple answer: because with all the professional training police officers get, they do not get trained in how to approach or handle an unfamiliar dog and many respond out of fear or fright; and there are some out of pure spite wanting to cause harm to the dog. I just received an email from the Chief of Police of Coconino, AZ, assuring me that appropriate actions would be taken on his Corporal Tewes that beat a dog to death with his baton and then crushed his head with his foot; the Chief was disturbed by these actions and gave him an administrative leave without pay until investigations were done.
Ernest: I have the feeling that the affected families also don’t get justice even if they lodge a complaint against such killing. Is that so?
Eddie: They never get justice after the trauma they endure simply because in every case the police indicate that it was justified even without a thorough investigation and they do it in front of a TV News camera. The answer you hear from the officer or the police chief is that if they feel threatened, they can use deadly force; and in most cases it's because they are frighten and that's in turn because they haven't received formal training to handle an unfamiliar canine. Also, many of these dog owners don't have the finances for all the court fees if they wanted to take the case to court.
Ernest: Was there any particular incident of dog killing by cops that motivated you to launch the petition?
Eddie: Yes, as a matter of fact, two incidents that were one week apart from each other. One was Diablo, the pit bull, who was trained by a certified police canine trainer, that was also certified in scent detection and was trained as a little puppy with the play activities and basic commands and then formal training and this dog responded by commands and in 7 years of his life never harmed or bit anyone or chased any other dog or wild animal as he was confined by an Invisible Fence; mind you, a pitbull confined by an Invisible Fence every mail carrier, UPS, utility worker, all would walk on property and pat him, to mention that the officers were there at 11:30 at night for a parking violation that only warranted a ticket.
The other one was Chino, the pit bull Mastiff that was shot while sitting in his front yard where the officer walked up to him and looked both ways as to see if anyone was looking and shot him in front of the owner’s 15-year-old son; the officer not knowing there was an eye witness across the street that saw what happened.
Ernest: Your petition also says that the proposed training will ensure the safety of officers as well. How exactly will this come about?
Eddie: Exactly, because like any other career or profession, training is part of the overall success of their company. Here we are talking about public safety and safety for the officers as well and if they are trained just like they are trained in every other aspect of their duties to do their job well then this training in how to approach and handle an unfamiliar dog should be standard training which should be basic because of the nature of the business that they are into and just to add, the human has to be the leader that canines can follow, so they are aided in making the right decision, and it's unfair that anyone would allow they just make it on their own.
Ernest: Do you think this petition is the concern of only dog owners?
Eddie: Let me put it this way. When we see injustice, then we are responsible as American Citizens. Let me quote what Thomas Jefferson said: “When Injustice Becomes Law, then Resistance Is Duty.” Our forefather of this great nation is telling us to act on what is not right; so now you can consider why every citizen should sign this petition, whether you own a dog or not; but we all know someone that does own a dog.
Ernest: So you are expecting 25 thousand signatures, at least?
Eddie: The White House Administration is allowing the “We The People” petitions to be addressed to their administration and they have set the goal of 25,000 because they want to address the petitions with the greatest concerns on a cause. As soon as it reaches 25,000 signatures, the system automatically delivers the petition to the White House to address the cause for which we have until October 5th, 2012. So yes, it will fail if this goal is not reached and with all the American Citizens that are outraged at what is happening to our canines, this is the time to change that.
Ernest: And do you also not feel the need for some kind of legislation or special body that investigates such cases of irresponsible shootings by cops – causing damage to animal life and private property?
Eddie: Absolutely, that is what you call accountability. Let me explain. Whenever anyone receives formal training where they are serving the public, there has to be a degree of accountability to the public and after one receives that training, usually they sign off on an affirmation document that they have taken that training to relieve liabilities from the employers that have given the training. Every employer has to submit to OSHA working safety guidelines and employees are to sign off on those safety guidelines.
My question would be why aren't officers held accountable after they received training in doing their jobs. But wait… they are not trained in handling an unfamiliar canine and thus this has to be a standard in their training; otherwise they cannot do their jobs to “Protect & Serve” the citizens in the community without destroying a beloved pet that's protected by the 4th Amendment Rights because they are deemed property by the state.
Ernest: Thank you Eddie for sharing thoughts on your cause!
Eddie: Thank you so much for this opportunity.
The petition of K9 Partners of Monroe County can be signed online here.