Police Killings of Dogs

8 August 2008
Prince George's raid prompts call for probe by Doug Donovan of the Baltimore Sun

When the shooting stopped, two dogs lay dead. […]


Police have said the dogs engaged officers. Calvo confirmed that Payton probably moved toward the door but would have ultimately done nothing more than lick them.


Chase was shot while running away from sheriff's deputies, Calvo said.

Okay, now I could write about the idiocy of the War on Drugs, but I want to instead talk about something else that makes me furious.

Far too many police, in far too many cases, have clearly demonstrated that they believe themselves to have the right to punish criminals by executing their dogs.

I'm not talking about cases where the dog has attacked, or has behaved in a way that indicates that it is an immediate threat.

It's not the right of a police officer to punish, period. And it's not the right of anyone to punish some person by killing an innocent companion animal. It doesn't fundamentally matter, when it comes to the killing of the Calvo dogs, that the Calvos were innocent. Even if they had been guilty of something truly criminal, it wouldn't be the right of police to kill their dogs because of who their owners were.

Police officials who needlessly kill dogs are never given worse than slaps on their wrists. Instead, they need to do hard prison time. More specifically:

  • If it can been shown that police conducted a raid such as this, where they could have brought and deployed non-lethal measures but did not, then one or more of the officials needs to spend years in prison. It should even be a criminal offense (albeït perhaps just a misdemeanor) for any participating officer not to know who has been assigned responsibility for those non-lethal measures, so that treasonous bastards cannot merely pretend that there was a mix-up. Note that I am not claiming that non-lethal measures can always be employed; but, when it is practicable to prepare them, police should be required to prepare them.
  • In any case where lethal methods have been used against a dog that is plainly not acting aggressively (as in the case of the dog who was attempting to flee), there should be years in prison.
These sorts of laws need to be effected on a state level. Governor O'Malley of Maryland should be recalled from office if he isn't the very first governor to produce a bill to such effect.

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7 Responses to Police Killings of Dogs

  • mija says:

    It sounds like these officers behaved with the mindset of hunters, taking pleasure in killing for the sake of the act itself.

    I wonder if it's possible to use mace spray to subdue animals? It would prevent police officers from using any justification for shooting animals, so they wouldn't be able to defend themselves with the argument (real or pretended) that the animals had behaved aggressively.

    (and it would also serve to save dogs that react instinctively with aggression to protect their owners)

    • Daniel says:

      I think that there's considerable variation in the mind-sets of hunters. Doubtless that some of them thrill at the idea of extinguishing a life. Others dissociate themselves entirely from that aspect of it. Many see it as a cost but as an acceptable one. (One needn't agree with where they strike the balance to recognize that they place the killing per se on the same side of it as do most opponents of hunting.)

      There is a mace-like substance, stronger than ordinary mace, called bear spray, designed to drive-off bears. It will also stop most determined human attackers (whereäs ordinary mace won't); so I'm pretty sure that it would drive away most dogs.

      I agree with the notion that a dog's acting aggressively is not sufficient to warrant killing a dog, which is part of why I wrote of preparing non-lethal measures.

      • At least in some police departments, it is standard procedure to use regular mace (which the officers always carry with them) on aggressive dogs. Which is to say, that an officer should not have to shoot a dog, except as the very last resort, even if he or she has come upon the scene unprepared.

  • Sakuroshi says:

    They do have dog mace, or something similar, I've seen it at every local bike store so I'm guessing it works.


    And if any normal person shot dogs for any reason other than for self defense they would be arrested, I don't understand why the police aren't even getting in trouble.

    • Daniel says:

      The police who do this usually do it in circumstances under which their expectation is that no one will want to be seen as siding with the suspect/defendant on anything.

  • forensiceye says:

    I simply lack the adequate discipline to remain silent on this one.

    You've struck perfectly when you point out that it is NOT the job of law enforcement to punish anyone. Such is a task for a competent court and I seriously doubt that any sentencing guidelines include the execution of pets of those accused / convicted.

    Furthermore, conduct of the like, perpetrated by anyone other than law enforcement personnel, would result in aggressive prosecution or at least it should. Once again I find myself grumbling almost silently, "what makes police officers any different that any one else when it comes to uniform application of the law?"

    Over the last 22 years in my ventures into all settings that regularly include inner city areas, I simply can't recall an incident where I didn't walk away petting even an "owner proclaimed" aggressive dog. Of course I'm not generally kicking in doors and regularly violating the constitutional entitlements of those I seek to interview but ...

    As a side note, do you perhaps believe that we've reached "critical mass" in the sense that now it may actually be necessary to have recalls for over 85% of those who've ascended to any political post beyond dog catcher?


    • Daniel says:

      The public is far too timid to recall more than an insignificant fraction of those who merit recall. And if the public were to be endowed with sufficient courage, then they would simply replace political officials with people not much different in character. Whether the lack of experience of the new rulers would work against or in favor of the nation is a moot question.

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