Merced Police Department Changes Policy Regarding Injured Pets

Effective immediately, the Merced police department in CA will no longer drive injured stray animals to the shooting range for killing.  The change was announced by Lt. Bimley West during a news conference on Tuesday.

“Our citizens have stated the times have changed and it’s time that we make a change,” West said Tuesday. “They have spoken. We have heard them clearly, and we have made a change in our policy.”

While this policy change is welcome news, there are some remaining concerns.

The only time officers will shoot animals is if they are being attacked, West said.

Historically, police officers nationwide have used questionable judgment in determining when lethal force is required against a pet.  And I’m being generous with the term questionable judgment.

I am also concerned that the new policy is impractical in that it requires officers to call a local vet to come to the scene of every injured animal, evaluate the pet and euthanize by injection if warranted.  The city has no vet contracted for this work and finances are a concern.

“I hope we can get vets to do that and work out an agreement to minimize costs,” [Merced Mayor Stan] Thurston said.

He hopes.  Isn’t this the sort of thing that should have been worked out before the policy was changed?  It seems far more realistic to my mind that vets might be willing to help if the injured animal is transported to their clinic, where they will have access to the equipment, staff and supplies needed for evaluation.  I can’t help but wonder if the Merced police department is setting itself up for failure with this policy change which would give them an opening to return to the decades-old practice of driving pets to the shooting range for killing.  Hey, we tried to stop shooting pets to death but we couldn’t get vets to drive out in the rain in the middle of the night to examine injured pets in the road.

I would rather they apply (the dreaded) common sense and figure that since their officers have been driving injured pets to the shooting range all these years, they are capable of driving them to the vet for evaluation.  Vets will surely charge less for services rendered at their own clinics than those rendered in the field on an emergency on-call basis.  And it would seem to be a far more reliable method of obtaining veterinary services in a timely manner.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

11 thoughts on “Merced Police Department Changes Policy Regarding Injured Pets

  1. here we go…! it’s going to be open shooting…. right were the dog is.. in the street, parking lot, someones back yard.. guns will be blazing.. ugh

  2. It is so telling that they say the change is because the citizens think the practice is inhumane. Obviously the members of the police department don’t have the decency to see that it is, let alone admit that they were wrong in what they were doing. And you’re right, with the way they propose handling things going forward, they’re purposefully setting it up so that they can blame the same citizens (and the vets) for leaving animals to suffer more than necessary and likely wait too long for treatment. What a bunch of jagoffs!

    1. It’s the evidence of their evil that they are exposing that seems to be lost on these smart-asses. This isn’t clever of them at all. But at least they’re stupid enough to show the world just how stupid and cruel they are. Let’s hope not too many animals suffer before they’re caught in this thinly veiled attempt to justify their enjoyment of killing suffering animals as target practice. Sickos.

  3. While I’m pleased with the swift response, I can’t help but call it reactionary. The changes are so poorly thought out, one has to wonder what kind of decision-making process is going on at the top levels in the department.

    Is the cop supposed to wait for a vet to show up? What happens if there’s an urgent call? What happens if the vet is in surgery? What happens if no vets will come?

    And finally…why can’t we just DRIVE ANIMALS TO THE EMERGENCY VET RATHER THAN THE FIRING RANGE? What is so friggin hard about this?

  4. Wouldnt it be better to train their officers on how to treat an animal? It would also be a great thing to have some sort of animal control or shelter such as the Humane society or ASPCA. I have done a search and could find none of these things in this county. Its a simple solution. If an officer finds an injured animal he/she takes it to the Humane society where they can get the animal appropriate care. That is assuming that the said humane society operates as it should.

  5. I have minimal problem with officers shooting an animal if he or she is being legitimately attacked. Most of the problem I have with it is because officers should be doing everything they can to not discharge firearms, especially in residential areas. But the reality is that a) officers are apparently not good at realizing what constitutes an actual attack, b) officers put themselves into situations that encourage an attack, and c) guidelines allow trigger-happy officers to shoot first and claim “attack” later, with minimal disciplinary action seeming to be the norm.

    I don’t know how many dogs are killed by police each year, but if the number were 10-20% of the actual total and the cases were situations in which the officer was legitimately being attacked, not too many people would have a problem with it.

    Did anybody else watch “The Wire”? It gets praised for being very realistic. The only police officer to discharge his firearm in the entire series was the cop who eventually became a teacher, and each time it was a bad mistake. Anytime a police officer discharges a firearm – whether to shoot a person, an animal, or a random shot in the air – there should be a full investigation. I would bet that the vast majority of police officers complete their career without ever discharging their firearm (apart from training).

  6. Another great page to stay informed on dogs shot by police:
    There are a lot of sad and needless shootings, and some places are trying retraining to stop them.
    As to the idea that the vets have to come to the hurt animals and not the other way round, this makes no sense to me. Unless we’re talking a large farm animal that can’t be transported to an emergency vet.

  7. I guess its good that they arent saying “yeah we are just going to continue shooting them in the middle of nowhere”, but I guess my problem is, why is this PD such a problem compared to others? Other PDs take these animals to the pounds/vets/etc right? So why cant they? I think I missed something somewhere in this story.. LOL yeah, I guess that was my thought on this

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