By Mike Riggs
February saw police officers in New Mexico, Florida, and Virginia unnecessarily shoot family pets, including a playful Australian Shepherd that bit an officer's shoe, a guard dog that was shot dead while the owner was away, and a brown and white mutt that was shot for being off-leash in a public park.
From New Mexico: Victoria Baca called the New Mexico State Police earlier this month to file a complaint about an online scam. The dispatcher said she would send an officer to Baca's home sometime that day. Baca said she would be out running errands, and for the officer to call when he was on his way to her house. When the officer eventually called, it was to let Baca know that he had jumped her fence while she was out shopping and shot her dog for biting him. Baca and her kids founds the 11-year-old pooch on their front porch, where—too heavy to lift—she stayed for several days. (KOB4)
From Florida: When the Jones's dog Baxter, a six-year-old Australian Shephard, escaped from their house, their neighbors in Pembroke Pines called the police. Baxter made it back to the house before the police arrived, and ran out again when the officers approached the front door. Here the stories diverge: Cameron Jones, 13, says Baxter barked at the two officers. The police say Baxter bit one of them on the shoe. Either way, one of the officers drew his gun and shot Baxter, who is recovering at an animal clinic. According to Sergeant Chris Chacon-Chang of the Pembroke Police Department, "It's a good shoot. The officer was being attacked." (WPLG10)
From Virginia: Radford University student Joseph DeMasi and another student were walking their dogs off-leash in a city park when a Radford Police Department Officer, responding to a call about two unleashed dogs, shouted for their attention and told them to restrain their pets. DeMasi's dog Copper and the other student's dog initially ran toward the officer. The other dog stopped when called for, but Copper continued to run. According to DeMasi, "there was no barking or growling,” and the dogs were "10 to 15 yards away" when the officer fired his gun. According to the officer, Copper "launched" himself. After shooting Copper, the officer followed DeMasi to an emergency animal clinic, where, "He told me I’m lucky his aim wasn’t better and I’m lucky my dog isn’t dead." DeMasi says he than made a crack about the officer's grammar, was forced onto his knees with his hands behind his back. A police spokesman "declined to address those allegations, stating they were inappropriate to discuss." (Collegiate Times)