Attention Canine: Halt in the name of the law or I’ll shoot!

Three teenagers were at home in Clayton Co, GA Sunday and the family Golden Retriever, “Boomer”, was hanging out on the porch.  When a police officer approached the home, Boomer barked and ran toward him:

The officer ordered the dog to stop and when it didn’t, the officer shot and killed the animal in its yard, [Captain Tina] Daniel said.

If Boomer had stopped, would the officer have read him his rights?

“My neighbor saw the whole thing,” [owner Lawrene] King said. “He was shocked how quickly the officer pulled his gun.”

Boomer was killed about 25 feet from his spot on the front porch, close to her front door, King said.

Hullo, ever hear of non-lethal force?

Before anyone argues that Boomer should have been on a leash:

The family had an electric fence, but there was not a sign alerting the officer it was there, Daniel said.

I’m wondering if there was a sign, would the officer have noticed it before shooting the dog?  Did he really scan the property for a sign about an electric fence before firing?  I don’t know of course but any way you look at it, this was an entirely unnecessary killing.


Thanks Clarice for the link.

24 thoughts on “Attention Canine: Halt in the name of the law or I’ll shoot!

  1. This is a near picture-perfect situation for the need to use Mace or Pepper Spray first. Heck, even a nightstick would have been better, bruises heal, dead doesn’t.

    1. And, had the officer employed non-lethal force, he might have realized the dog was in an electric fenced yard when the dog stopped at the shock line. Even if not, he could have called out to the kids in the house or the neighbor to leash the dog.

  2. they will investigate the “unfortunate incident”?? HUH the dog was on his own property.. does a dog now need to be leashed in its own yard.. TRIGGER HAPPY

  3. Michy – I agree that if the officer felt endangered in any way, a nightstick or flashlight in hand to give the dog a target *if* an animal is actually is a danger is sufficient – giving the animal the opportunity to stop short, which IS what a “charging” dog will generally do when someone approaches or enters its property. If the dog IS a danger, pepper spray, mace, and yes even a gun may be required in certain circumstances. This is one more example of why police officers need a minimal understanding of NORMAL canine behaviour, to better equip themselves to assess situations.

    However, I’m a facts girl, and this quote here:

    “The officer ordered the dog to stop and when it didn’t, the officer shot and killed the animal in its yard, Daniel said.”

    is more than enough for me to say that this officer should have his firearm removed permanently – ie desked – at the very least, and certainly with some form of punishment attached including time off without pay, restitution, and perhaps speaking to other officers about the importance of assessment before action – something a police officer should be extremely good at, if given the right information regarding what to look for.

    The FACTS are that this dog was killed on its own property. This was not a situation where the officer was responding to a report of a bite or an attack.

    What essentially occurred was this.

    Patrol officer walks down street, looking out for illegal activity (one would assume). He passes by a yard containing a running, barking dog and proceeds to shoot the dog dead on the spot.

    Those are the facts as we know them. I don’t care that this dog was a Golden who had never bitten anyone. I don’t care if this was a 150lbs of rottweiler approaching this officer (cause, ya know, the media would have an entirely different view on the story then, wouldn’t they), the dog was on its own property.

    Unless there is a local law that requires you to put up signs declaring underground fencing, this officer is guilty of killing this dog illegally – regardless of your opinion on the issue as a whole.

    Until that dog exited its yard and actively engaged the officer, the most that should have come out of this encounter was perhaps a suggestion of signage by the officer to the childrens parents so that passerby are not concerned if this dog harasses them on their way by.

    Not much grey area on this one from what I can see.

  4. This is just another item to add to my list of “Why I HATE Invisible Fences”. Unless there are signs posted every few inches, most of the time there isn’t a sign, or it is SO far away that you don’t see it. Or…you don’t see it until it is too late.

    I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been charged by all sizes of dogs that have those darn invisible fences. Many of those dogs have broken through, only to have the owners exclaim that it “happens all the time”. Well DUH! Then it doesn’t work and do something that DOES work! My dog has been bitten by dogs who have “escaped” their invisible fences, and I have had teeth on me a few times walking or jogging past. I just hate them.
    To me, invisible fences are just the lazy person’s way out of not exercising their dog (“well, they have a yard”), not wanting to take responsibility to watch their dog (“he won’t go anywhere”), and a variety of other reasons for having one. Not to mention the shock (or vibration as so many people say) that the dogs get when they get too close. Of course that is going to make dogs bark and charge. The shock is a positive punishment. All in all…I hate them.

    I am VERY angered at the officer’s reaction to shooting the dog. That is just ridiculous. Granted, the officer didn’t know what the dog might do when it is “loose”, but shooting the dog was WRONG no matter how you look at it. Shootings of dogs by police are rampant all over the country, and it seems to be getting worse. Poor family.

    1. I have Bull Terriers. We won’t place a puppy (or a rescue) to people who say they can’t fence their yards (usually their subdivisions won’t allow them) and want to use electric fences. Ummm, it also does not keep other animals from coming into your yard, and a BT will just run through it and then won’t come back because of the shock. What if the power goes out while the dog is in the yard? I hate those fences too. They are just STUPID.

  5. A friend of mine was a meter reader for the electric company, meaning he had to go onto people’s property guarded by their dogs. The company gave him mace and firm instructions not to use it unless as an absolute last resort, like just before the jaws clamped down. He was told the public gets quite pissed off when their dogs are maced while doing their jobs.

    If an electric company is this concerned with public relations, it seems incredible to me that the police department would not have protocols in place to prevent shooting dogs.

  6. So…the cop fired his weapon in the direction of the house? And if the bullet had missed the dog, and instead had gone into the house and hit a human? No. This is why we don’t jump right to lethal force – because, among other reasons, it can be lethal to someone other than the intended target.

    That cop is very lucky only the dog was killed. The dog, on the other hand, not so much.

  7. Here’s the thing.

    Let’s say I’m training a genuinely aggressive dog, I’ve screwed up somehow (let’s say I use the client’s collar, and it breaks) and I think I’m about to take a bite.

    I’m warmly-dressed, physically fit, and equipped with pepper spray, a short club, and a pistol. (I actually do carry pepper spray when training in public — for use when the random loose dog jumps the one I’m working with.)

    In what universe do I KILL the dog that belongs to the person I’m working for in order to avoid a possible BITE?

    Because, news flash, there are not a lot of fatal dog bites. Most bites on clothed adults don’t even require a trip to the hospital or a doctor visit. They just, you know, hurt.

    News flash, pepper spray or a hard whack on the nose from a nightstick stops dogs more reliably than small-arms fire.

    But really — people are always rushing to say that the cops “had to defend themselves.” But in other situations, they don’t get to use lethal force against the threat of minor injury.

    Not allowed to shoot the ten-year-old kid who is kicking you while you cuff his Daddy. No matter how hard the little bastard kicks. Much less because “I thought he was gonna kick me.”

    1. And you know, another thing, I was thinking about the time the new cop in the township got a little misplaced and ended up all the way down my driveway and in front of my house.

      The dogs ran to greet her, and because I was expecting a friend, I didn’t think anything of it when six dogs tore out front barking. I just finished the milking and came out on my own time — to find a police cruiser trapped by circling, barking dogs.

      The driver’s window was rolled down and she was petting them as they (against the rules) jumped up on the door.

      Now I think being charged by six medium-large barking dogs, one of them a German shepherd, is fairly intimidating. Rosie “sniles” when she greets people, too, and this can look kind of scary.

      After determining that this was not an official call for any reason, I apologized to the officer for the scratches on her door. She said she didn’t care, wasn’t her car. She’d been concerned by the dogs at first, but then, she was in their yard, and she quickly figured out that they were just excited. She had been wondering how to turn the cruiser around without backing over anyone when I appeared.

      So, if things were really dodgy, which cop would you rather have making decisions?

  8. I work in the legal field. Municipal defense is our bread and butter. Not by choice, per se, but by circumstance. The majoriy of our clients are police officers, deputies, sheriffs, jailers. They just ged sued more often than garbage truck drivers.

    This story simply infuriates me. It is people like this who should not be allowed to carry a lethal weapon. If this was my yard, it would have been my do he shot and killed without reason. My dog will bark at you on our property and will approach you; to him, that’s part of his job. That doens’t mean he’ll actually invade your personal space or even try to bite you. He’s telling you, “this is my property and my people.” In effect, he’s ordering you to stop.

    I hope this guy loses his job. I hope remedial training is required for each and every member of the force regarding how to deal with dogs encountered while on the job. I hope some gesture is made to apologize to the family – perhaps a donation to a charity in the name of the family and the dog.

    This happens far too often and I have yet to encounter a case in which the person genuinely feared for his or her life based on any rational, explainable facts. For shame.

      1. @Brie–

        It is ok! It is better to get the anger out in its raw form and battle typos! We understand! :)

  9. And then there’s this one–ordinary citizen kills dog with bare hands (not joking)–

    As far as I can tell, this guy’s injuries were mostly sustained while he was strangling the dog who was understandably fighting for her life!

    What’s up with these awful stories? An epidemic of trigger-happy cops or an epidemic of humans so terrified by Menacing Canine Monsters they kill without even thinking first? Does media fear-mongering have anything to do with this?

    1. As nearly as I can tell, people have learned to be very fearful of dogs any bigger than a cocker spaniel. All people, including police officers, and sometimes even vets.

      I’ve drawn no firm conclusions as to why, in a population which unarguably loves animals this should be so, but I do have a theory.

      Animal rights activists focus exclusively on the negative, and have focused particularly on the risks of ‘vicious’ dogs. They have outlawed a number of breeds on this ground, and I believe that the whole campaign to ‘identify’ vicious dogs by size, breed and appearance has taken its toll.


      1. I don’t think that the shootings of a miniature dachshund and several chihuahua mixes can be blamed on fear of killer dogs.
        And it’s happened. Seems more like cops shoot first and think later all too often.
        Also caged dogs, dogs on leases, the list goes on and on. Google and weep.

  10. There’s a quote from Karen Delise’s book which I used at the start of my research paper on bully breeds which is on point:

    “At perhaps no time in history has mankind been as ignorant of natural canine behavior as we are today. . . how easily we forsake the dogs rather than take responsibility for their behavior is a sad testament to how well humans fulfill their commitment to the canine/human bond. This is perhaps the ultimate act of betrayal which humans have inflicted on our canine companions – the refusal to own what is ours, what we have created.”

    We’ve lost touch with how they think and what they need from us. And the media has created a problem which did not exist a hundred years ago: irrational fear based on irresponsible story telling for the sake of shock value.

  11. My neighbor, who is a cop and who has two Rotties and an American Bulldog, says that when a cop shoots a dog, if there are no bite wounds reported along with the shooting, the shooting was unnecessary. If the dog is actually charging with intent to attack, you can’t get your gun out and aimed in time to shoot before the dog reaches you.

    He says the shootings happen mostly because too few cops have any real experience with dogs, and they get no training with dogs unless they are K9 officers.

  12. @Vida – yes, the size of the dog is not a critical factor; I think people are more afraid of dogs in general, and my theory hold. People are being hyped into that fear of dogs. And some of the breeds on the ‘dangerous dog’ lists ARE small breeds.

    So far as cops are concerned – out here, you could make a pretty good case for cops being fearful of just about everything, I think. We’ve had an unarmed woman shot at a traffic stop, an unarmed guy having a psychotic break in public (acting weird), various other similar incidents. The results of the investigations all supported the cop’s contention that he thought his life was in danger and he fired in self defense – at people who were actually unarmed. I think some of the lawsuits brought by families are still grinding their way through the courts.

    Life gets a little weirder every day.

    1. I think you’re a nicer person than I, or at least a more thoughtful one. When I look at police shootings of unarmed people I see more a pattern of killing because they can. But I do think you have a good point, fear is ‘in the air’ lately, lots of rather paranoid generalized fear that gets attached to a number of ‘others’ depending on a lot of factors. Dogs could definitely be on the list of ‘others’ to fear. Sad and as you say, weird.

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