It’s happened again. Mere days after it was reported in this space that police in pursuit of a suspect shot and killed a dog, Baltimore City Police on Thursday deprived another pup of its life, the pooch’s owner its loving companionship.
The Baltimore Sun reports that police had just apprehended the suspect they were chasing, 31-year-old Tavon Green, when a dog emerged from the home in whose yard the collar was made.
According to the police report, the dog charged at the officer, who drew his service weapon and shot and killed the dog. Police, moreover, maintain, that “the shooting was justified.”
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told reporters:
If the dog was aggressive toward the officers or threatened the officers or anyone else, we have the legal right to protect the officer or anyone else and make the situation as safe as possible.
Maybe so, but these shootings, which are epidemic, are a judgment call, being made mostly by people who lack the judgment to make them. To assess a volatile situation such as this, you need to be able to understand a canine’s psyche — to put yourself in the dog’s place.
Consider that even the most sedate of breeds are given to barking when someone approaches their domicile. Reacting in this manner is hard-wired into the species. When more excitable breeds sense a threat, they have a tendency to move toward the intruder, not to attack it but to defend their turf.
Which is what the dead dog's owner, Stacy Fields, is on record as having said. She maintains that her dog, Kincaid, only barked at the officer and didn't charge, adding that the officer used excessive force.
Her stepfather, who followed the dog out of the home, moreover, was about to grab the its harness when she said the officer fired six shots, hitting the dog three times — twice in the head and once in the body. "He very well could have shot my stepfather," she said. Not to mention that six shots sounds like overkill.
The dog, a white pitbull mix with brown around his eyes and ears, had just turned three. Fields has since posted a Facebook page titled "Kincaid. Killed by Baltimore City Police." As of this writing, the page has received 7,284 likes.
It is time for police to learn to deal more conscientiously and compassionately with dogs and other pets and to exercise restraint. Otherwise, repeats of this incident are a certainty, and each time the shooter will lose no sleep over his actions, content that he has done his duty. The pet’s owner, meantime, will be left to mourn, equally convinced that the officer did not.
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