Cabarrus Co ACO Cleared in Pitbull Shooting

This is a follow up on the story of Bella, a Pitbull who had gotten loose from her NC yard and was shot by an animal control officer who didn’t want to spend time chasing her.  The Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office has cleared the ACO of any wrongdoing in the shooting:

An internal investigation “determined that the officer acted appropriately to protect the potential harm presented to the citizens by shooting the pit bull that could not be captured,” according to a press release from Sheriff Brad Riley.


Cabarrus County Animal Control Officer Sean Austin acknowledges on a video posted online that the pit bull, a family pet named “Bella,” was not aggressive toward him and that he shot it because it was taking too long to catch.

But the sheriff’s report details six eyewitness accounts of the pit bull “displaying behavior and posture that lead those officers to believe the dog would bite someone if allowed to continue running at large,” the press release said.

I interpret this as follows:

  1. This dog hasn’t bitten anyone but if we let her continue to run loose, she will bite someone.
  2. Therefore, the only reasonable action is to shoot her to death.

On both points, I call bullshit.  Firstly, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  Bella’s past behavior was being scared and not biting anyone.  The logical assumption to make is that, if not captured humanely, she will continue to act scared and not bite anyone.  But I contend that it was in fact animal control’s duty to humanely capture her, however long that took.  The premise that she had to be captured,  killed or left to roam within 30 minutes is false.  (You’re not Domino’s Pizza, are you?)

Secondly, the notion that Bella had to be shot to death on the spot is nonsense.  Remember, she hadn’t bitten anyone.  There would be no reason to give up trying to catch her humanely, even if, as the ACO indicated, he didn’t feel like spending the extra time that would take.

Then there’s this:

[The ACO] was not certified to use a tranquilizer gun because no training courses have been available through Carolina Veterinary Consultants in Pittsboro since he joined the Animal Control Division, the release said.

However, authorities apparently would not have used tranquilizers.

Tranquilizing animals with heightened adrenaline levels can elevate their aggression, resulting in a higher risk of attack, the sheriff’s office said.

I don’t have enough knowledge to comment on the scientific merits of that assertion but anecdotally, I will say I watched a lot of Wild Kingdom episodes when I was a kid.  I can’t imagine an animal having any more heightened adrenaline levels that one being chased by a low flying helicopter across the savanna and they always seemed to tranquilize those animals safely.  Also, if that statement is accurate, why do other AC outfits use tranquilizers to sedate animals?  Is Cabarrus Co saying those other AC units are being reckless and endangering their staff?  Why does Carolina Veterinary Consultants even offer the class?  Suffice to say, I am skeptical.

2 thoughts on “Cabarrus Co ACO Cleared in Pitbull Shooting

  1. This is unacceptable. His actions were hasty and ruthless, his choice to shoot her in the back as she FLEED FROM HIM should speak volumes. I ask you, had this been a young teenage child, perhaps an ethnic or other minority that had just broken out of detention and was running from the police – if statistics showed that young teenage ethnic children were statistically more likely to kill, rape or rob you but he was cowering from the police and running FROM other human officers… would the public support him being shot? I mean dont we read in the paper every day that young black males robbed, beat, raped, murdered? Should they be given the same treatment? (for the record, this is an EXAMPLE I am in no way shape or form trying to say that young black males (or any other person or animal)are to be shot in the back)

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