Put down guns, not dogs

JOSH BABCOCK | Evergreen columnist

Law enforcement’s duty is to ensure safety for all people, but that job does not always extend to man’s best friend.

It seems to be a recurring event where dogs find themselves facing a loaded gun in the hands of the police. In the past few years the problem has escalated, and now cases in which dogs are killed from the acts of law enforcement are a dime a dozen.

Justice for animals killed by police is rarely found and animals are considered personal property, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. This means that in many states, their death can be resolved by just paying the animal’s monetary worth.

According to Code Enforcement Officer Sharon Schnebly of the Pullman Police Department, there are a number of measures police take to protect animals, like pepper spray to stabilize dogs and other animals during situations where police feel threatened.

Schnebly said dog behavior is difficult to read, but it’s the officer’s discretion to monitor a situation to ensure their own safety.

However, some law enforcement officers are too quick to pull their triggers on animals.

To stop this problem, police need to be more like Schnebly and react with less force when they encounter animals.

According to the New York Daily News, Leon Rosby’s dog was shot four times last year when the dog approached an officer while he was reprimanding its owner.

The shooting took place in front of a number of bystanders that were left traumatized, and when the video went viral on YouTube, it left the public so outraged people made death threats against Hawthorne police officers.

Unfortunately for dog owners and the dogs that like to be close to their owners, when it comes to animals, it seems some police officers are threatened simply by the presence of a K9.

It would be nice if instances like Rosby’s were a rarity, but his case is just one of many in an unfair trend.

A two-year-old Jack Russell Terrier was shot and killed in October 2013 when probation officer Antoine Jones did a routine visit to an offender’s residence, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The owner of the dog, Cherrie Shelton said she didn’t even have enough time to tell Jones her dog wasn’t going to bite him before he shot the dog.

The 6 foot, 300 pound Jones said he feared for his life when 12 pound Patches ran at him as he entered the yard to Shelton’s home.

About 30 minutes after being shot in the side, Patches died.

Although Patches’ death was a perfect time for law enforcement to use a solution with less force like pepper spray to calm the situation, Jones used gunpowder instead.

There had to be a way for Jones to stabilize the situation and keep Patches alive other than using his gun.

Camden, N.J., is another place a dog has fallen victim to the carelessness some law enforcement displays towards animals.

As reported by ABC News, it’s hard to forget the action officers took when an 8-month-old blue pit bull named Capone was shot and killed in 2011.

Often, Capone would get loose and curiously wander down the street to play with kids in the neighborhood, but on this day and to Capone’s surprise, police were present.

While the police broke up a fight Capone ran happily toward the crowd.

Next, Camden police fired 33 rounds to kill the dog.

The dog’s owner, Sherronda Aycox, said although one cop yelled at the other not to shoot the puppy, the officer continued to fire at the dog and even threatened others in the process with stray bullets.

“When he shot him, the dog fell to the ground, was shaking and crying, but he just stood over top of him and kept shooting repeatedly,” Aycox said, according to the article.

Acts like these make it hard to trust police when it comes to our pets’ safety.

Police being recognized for their heinous acts towards animals happens far too often, but with our pet’s lives in their hands we can only hope police can find other options to stabilize a situation besides killing our pets.

– Josh Babcock is a senior communication major from Pullman. He can be contacted at 335-2290 or by opinion@dailyevergreen.com. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.