Off-Duty Cop Sprays Pit Bull, Owners Angry

| by Denise A Justin

An off-duty Stockton police officer says he feared for his safety when his neighbors’ Pit Bull was barking and jumping aggressively on a wood fence which separates his yard from theirs in Riverbank, California. Rather than wait until there was an attack resulting in bodily injury, the cop took things into his own hands.  He reached over the fence and pepper sprayed the dog, according to CBS Local News.

Riverbank is a small city near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Ironically, its slogan is "The City of Action."

Victor and Abel Aceves, the brothers who own the Pit Bull believe police have a dual standard and, because their neighbor is a cop, officials are ignoring the suffering caused to their dog .

 “He was over here, huddled in the corner, crying in the corner,” Abel said about the Pit Bull.

“I’m pretty sure one of us would be cuffed up or have a ticket right now, but it’s the other way around because he’s a cop,” Victor Aceves said. “Pretty much he said that if he feels threatened, he can do whatever he wants to protect himself.”

The statement given by the police officer to the Stanislaus Sheriff's deputy who responded to a call by the dog owners on August 10, indicates that the Pit Bull didn’t come through the fence prior to being sprayed on that day. And, there is no record that the officer called police to make a complaint about the dog or the threatening behavior.

Victor Aceves said he asked his neighbor why he sprayed the dog. ”“He’s in our backyard. There’s a fence in between you guys. There’s no way your life’s threatened.” 

However, deputies who responded said that the off-duty officer told them the Pit Bull was charging the fence and had dog broken through a fence board last week.  The boards appeared to be 6-feet high.

Another neighbor disagreed, stating there was no reason to pepper-spray the friendly Pit Bull. “Through a fence? Come on!” John Lindsey said. “Their dog’s friendly. I’ve never had problems. That dog’s never hurt anybody.

Stockton Police confirmed that the officer works for their department and said he reported the use of force immediately. They also indicated they are conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

The sheriff’s department says it has turned the case over to Animal Control for follow up.

The brothers said they plan to lock the Pit Bull in their garage any time they know their neighbor will be in his backyard. 

The officer was unavailable for comment, according to the report.

Does a police officer, or anyone else, have to wait until an attack occurs before using pepper spray to deter a threatening dog?