A reader named Nicole left a very exciting link on one of my previous posts to a petition to Congress requesting mandatory dog handling education for police officers.
Some of you may be new to the controversy over the shooting of Cisco in Austin, when an Austin police officer went to the wrong house, surprised the homeowner & his dog who had been playing frisbee, & then shot the dog when it reacted to him (reports differ, although I’m inclined to go with the owner because the whole thing happened in 4 seconds & based on the dashcam audio the cop didn’t exactly enter the situation with a clear mind).
After you sign the petition, you also have the option of filling out an email webform which will send a letter with this request to the President & various congress members as relevant to your state (quite convenient!). I rewrote my letter & have posted my wording below. But first, here is the link:
This is how I reworded my letter. Feel free to copy if you wish. Remember to change the word “Hawaii” in the 1st paragraph if you are not in Hawaii. You may also wish to delete the entire 3rd paragraph since it is my own personal experience.
Thank you for your time in advance. I am asking you to please make it mandatory in Hawaii to educate and train our local police to handle our domestic animals in a non-lethal manner. Mailmen & paramedics all get this training. If police are given the power to kill the family pet, along with that power should come some form of education.
Currently a cop can kill my dog, even if he is at the wrong address, even if he is cutting through my backyard to get to someone else’s house, if he simply “feels threatened.” The problem with this is that while one cop may feel threatened by a dog snarling, another cop may feel threatened by a dog simply looking at him. It is entirely subjective & there is no guidance given to officers to mitigate this. All over the US there are horror stories of family dogs being shot where they were lying, while being held by their owners, while running away, while simply barking in surprise when a truckload of gun-bearing, shouting strangers break into their house.
I asked a friend in HPD about this & he said that there is no penalty for shooting a dog in its own home because dogs are considered “property,” & a certain amount of property damage is expected when answering a complaint. He said that unless the dog is papered & the owner has documentation of its dollar value, a slain dog is worth $1. Therefore there is no reason for police to hold back from shooting a dog, even if the dog is not actually aggressive but only barking, as it naturally would be at an intruder.
Since the Cisco debacle in Austin, I’ve looked up countless stories on the web of cops’ & SWAT teams’ “no holds barred” murder of household pets should the fancy take them when on a bust or raid. Some of these busts/raids were at mistaken addresses where the occupants had done nothing wrong. And neither had their dogs.
I have 3 dogs who would all bark at an intruder, possibly even attack. It’s what they do. They are dogs. They are obedient & well behaved when we go out, but if someone broke into my house they would defend their home. It’s what they do.
I now am afraid to call 911 if I think someone is trying to break in to my house. The intruder might get away & then the cops will come here & slaughter my dogs. Even though my dogs are papered, I don’t care about the money. I want my pets to be safe.
If someone wanted to hurt me, all they have to do is make a fake burglary call with my address. The cops would break in here looking for a burglar, but instead find my dogs & shoot them for doing only what is natural. And there need never have been a burglar. And my dogs would be gone forever. And I would have no recourse for my grief or my misery.
Please consider an awareness or education program for all police officers. With the power to kill should also come knowledge. I have not felt safe a single day since I discovered that this could happen to me. Please help keep our police department the good guys, not the threat.