Can The Police Shoot Your Pets With Impunity?
A St. Louis County, MN deputy shot a family pet recently while attempting to serve papers in a civil court action related to unpaid medical bills. He approached the rural home of the family to be served, who wasn’t home at the time, and remained in his car while dogs barked. He then got out of the dog and was approached by the family’s pit bull.
The deputy claims he fired off a taser over the dog’s head to try and scare it away but that it didn’t work. He then pulled his firearm and shot the dog, which ran off into the woods. The family found the dog mortally wounded later when they returned home. The deputy, who claims to have searched for the dog, left a note on their doorknob telling them to contact his department.
The note didn’t mention the shooting of the dog.
The sheriff’s department is refusing to apologize to the family for shooting the dog, maintaining that the deputy acted appropriately.
I used to serve civil process, dealing with all the anger and shouting and threats that go along with it, and pets weren’t a very fun part of the job. And the deputy had every right to defend himself from an aggressive dog, especially of a breed that doesn’t have a very good reputation. The officer’s safety is absolutely more important than the life of the dog. But from the description of events, it’s hard to imagine how this shooting was necessary.
The officer could have called the home to determine whether or not anybody was even home, thus eliminating the need to get out of his car. He could have honked his horn to see if anybody would come out of the home and calm the dogs. When the dog first began acting aggressively he could have returned to his car and come back later.
There was no need to force the issue with the dog. Especially not over something as trivial as some civil papers. There is no reason your pet has to die because the police want to serve you some papers. That the family can’t even get so much as an apology from the deputy or the local sheriff is the sort of law enforcement arrogance that breeds contempt among the citizenry.
Unfortunately, cops shooting family pets in this fashion is a fairly common trend, termed “puppycide” by critics.Tags: law enforcement, puppycide