Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When Should Cops Be Allowed To Kill A Dog?

Owners of a pit bull killed last summer by Richmond police say in a federal civil rights suit that officers had insufficient reason to shoot and the department did little to investigate their complaint.

Cynthia Peters and Mark Parr lived on the first block of Sixth Street last July 27, when police chased a man into their apartment building. Officers opened the gate to a side yard, and shot the couple's 90-pound pit bull, Blu, 12 times when he came bounding out.

Something needs to be done about this kind of thing. Dog killings like this happen all too frequently.

Here is another recent story showing the same problem:

An investigation was launched Monday after police in Winter Springs entered the wrong house Sunday and killed the homeowner's dog

If a suspect is fleeing the police, do the police have the right to do whatever they need to in order to get to the suspect? Could they drive a tractor through your living room? Could they rush through a crowd of kids and slam them all to the ground? Could they set your barn on fire to flush out the suspect? No. Then why do they get to kill our pets in similar situations? Just because they are the police doesn’t mean they get to use force in any situation they please.

Look, I am in support of law and order, and want the police to be effective in preventing and solving crimes. That’s their function and they are sorely needed. I have all the respect in the world for the police. I even support them killing dogs that are attacking people unprovoked, if necessary, to save the victim.

But, here is the mindset of the dog hating legal world. They see dogs as a nuisance, or something to be destroyed:

Government lawyers defended Ontario's controversial ban on pit bulls from a constitutional challenge Tuesday by insisting the law is a vital tool in the province's efforts to protect the public from what they consider dangerous weapons. Pit bulls have a "predilection to attack," Crown lawyer Michael Doi said as he described the broad-shouldered, snub-nosed animals as the dog preferred by criminals who want an extra level of security. "In many ways, pit bulls are the automatic guns of the dog world," said Doi, as some spectators in the courtroom groaned in disagreement. Doi described cases in which police were forced to shoot pit bulls dead because the dogs attacked officers trying to execute an arrest or search warrant at the home of a suspect. "With the criminal element, the dog of choice is a pit bull."

Of course, all this is a lie. Statements like this are used to justify the killing of innocent dogs, and to shape public perception and give the police the right to kill dogs that look a certain way, regardless of whether the dogs have done anything wrong. Note that in the two killings above, the dogs were NOT being used for any kind of criminal activity. They didn't deserve to die. They were pets, period.

But, the law needs to be changed regarding this kind of killing. It needs to be spelled out in writing, in the law, to define when it is OK for the police to kill a dog during a pursuit or search. The two examples above should be illegal and the officers punished in some way.

No comments: