Police in WA Shoot Scared Dog Hiding in Bushes

On November 7, a good Samaritan called police in Des Moines, WA to report that a Newfoundland was roaming the neighborhood.  Kids were chasing the dog around and the caller was worried the dog would get hit by a car.

Three officers responded and tried to use a catchpole on the dog but she was afraid and kept barking and running away.  They yelled at her when she “charged” them and she ran away again.  One of the officers took a photo of the dog with his cell phone and sent it to the off-duty ACO.  The ACO said she didn’t recognize the dog.  (What that has to do with the price of tea in China I have no clue.)  So they tazed the Newfie, twice.  By then she was really scared and ran into someone’s backyard and hid in some bushes.

At this point, the officers all agreed that the dog was a threat to public safety and to them personally so one of the officers put a bullet in her.  She fell to the ground, her eyes rolled back in her head and her breathing was labored.  Apparently still deeming the dog to be a public threat, the officer put a second bullet in her.  At that point the dog began to yelp.  Apparently the dog was still a threat to public safety so he shot her a 3rd time.  After that shot she struggled to sit up, trying to move away.  Apparently the officer felt she was still a threat and so put a 4th bullet in her which killed her.  Then he poked her with a stick to make sure she was dead.

Newfies, in case you didn’t know, are the dogs so reliably good tempered they are used to rescue drowning victims – people who flail and scream and have a tendency to choke their rescuers.  They are often called “gentle giants” due to their kind disposition and large size.  This Newf was named Rosie and her owners are devastated.  She had never gotten loose before and in fact, neighbors at the scene did not even recognize her.

A letter to the editor from a local resident paints a pretty negative picture of how lost dogs are handled in Des Moines.  The community held a vigil for Rosie yesterday.

13 thoughts on “Police in WA Shoot Scared Dog Hiding in Bushes

  1. these officers are sick, they really are- they are certifiable – it sounds to me that this, like many of these horrific, unwarranted shootings, are an EXCUSE to use their damn guns.

  2. Any dog can be aggressive, even “gentle giants”. Breed standards are not all that useful in these types of situations.

    None of the officers used common sense in dealing with Rosie. She was not exhibiting dangerous behavior. She did not try to eat anyone. In fact, grown men were able to scare her off with a simple YELL. That is not a deadly dog.

    And she was confined. I am certain the homeowner would have been waiting for the dog to calm down to re-evaluate her behavior. When a dog is confined, they are no longer a valid threat to the public. Perhaps to the officers, but all of her behavior indicated she relied heavily on her flee response, even when cornered.

    I’m so sorry she suffered alone and afraid in those last moments of her life.

  3. This is truly a tragedy that could have been prevented. I think the best action we can take if we want to honor Rosie is to make every effort to ensure that all law officers are trained more on how to deal with dogs (or other domestic animals) in times of ‘crisis’ without needing to resort to guns.

    I understand that not everybody has experience with dogs, but if you’re supposed to be protecting the public, you need to maintain a higher standard than the average person, in my opinion.

  4. My emotional response is to say how much I hate cops for this very kind of abuse of authority. Most shouldn’t be allowed to carry a nightstick, let alone a gun.

    But then I calm down and realize what is truly missing here – first, why was that beautiful dog running loose? Second, what each community needs is someone like me that the cops can call who can respond immediately. I could go out, get everyone away, calm down the dog, and quietly bring him/her in without all the guns, tazers, and catch poles. It’s not hard. It just takes experience.

    Are there any experienced rescuers who could offer this service in that place? ACOs don’t know their head from their ass when it comes to this work. They can help coordinate what happens after that, but those “dog catchers” are not the ones to do this gentle work.

  5. It’s getting harder and harder to defend police actions when incidents like this keep happening. Don’t they have any idea of the poor public relations this causes not just locally but nationally? Training in dealing with lost dogs should not be something that depletes the community coffers.

  6. I hope you don’t mind my re-posting a message I received recently on a listserv. People here might find it of interest:

    In this month’s issue of Whole Dog Journal Pat Miller, well known dog trainer, discusses dog shootings by police. In Pat’s article, she estimates that, if you include estimated unreported cases, the number of incidents where police shoot dogs may be as high as THREE PER DAY in this country.

    Pat feels that a grassroots effort is needed to stop this and get police departments to provide their officers with better training on handling situations involving dogs. I understand the only training for DC Metro Police is a 3-hour video, which is not sufficient. The results of this lack of proper training are tragic (e.g., Parrot) and endanger people as well as dogs (e.g., animal control officer in Detroit shot by police officer who was trying to shoot a pit bull).

    Pat Miller has created a yahoo group which is not meant to bad mouth or put down the police. This group is for concerned owners to discuss how to better prepare the police for handling dogs and come up with strategies to reduce the number of dogs killed by police. To subscribe, send a message to:



    Pat Miller has published several dog training books and is pretty well known around here, though I’ve never met her, personally. But I think I am going to follow this group.

    It is just deplorable that no one is held accountable for what seems to be a commonly held attitude among the police – “better a dead dog than I should wear a band-aid.” Because let’s face it – even when a dog DOES bite (and we all know even a barking, rambunctious dog is not necessarily going to bite anyone), in most cases the “victim” ends up wearing a band-aid. Or two.


    A much smaller number suffer anything worse. An even smaller number suffer anything that could be deemed serious. And a truly insignificant number suffer death.

    But, the dog can’t speak to its intentions – especially after it is dead. Thus, the cops’ subjective impressions tend to cover their butts.

    That has to change.

  7. This happened in my area. A nightmare. There has been a lot of outrage. The only good thing — nobody has even tried to defend these officers.

    I want to clarify one important thing. Thomas asked, ” . . . first, why was that beautiful dog running loose?” The family has made it clear that they don’t know how Rosie got out. These were definitely responsible owners and they are devastated. According to waterlandblog, the blog that has covered the case in detail, “Rosie ‘had never been outside our back yard without my husband or I beside her. I think she was terrified’ when confronted by the officers and cornered in the back yard.”

    But, IMO, even if the owners had been irresponsible, the dog is still an innocent party and should not be killed. It’s not the dog’s fault, and it’s not right for law-enforcement officers to do this.

    I can’t help but wonder if these law-enforcement shootings of family pets have been happening all along at the current rate, or whether they are in fact on the increase. It’s hard to tell, especially since we can’t easily know what goes on in areas where pet-owners have no access to blog writers and TV reporters. One thing is clear: middle-class communities like Des Moines, at least, will not accept these shootings without question. But police and AC agencies are not adjusting to the public’s new expectations quickly enough. And once again animals are paying the price.

  8. One of those officers really just wanted to shoot the dog. He mentioned a few times, that maybe he’d just “shoot it.” Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting.

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