[The Houston Police] department said it has ruled all 187 officer-involved shootings of dogs since January 1, 2010 as justified.
According to departmental records, 121 of those dogs died.
In many police departments, Houston evidently included, officers need only “feel” threatened by the dog — an extremely subjective standard, to say the least — to shoot it. If your dog has an aggressive look (e.g. has bull terrier, shepherd, or doberman blood in him), or even if the officer just happened to be bitten by a dog as a kid and now has a phobia, you may find yourself with a dead dog for no real reason.
The ASPCA has commented that this “feeling threatened” standard “set a very low threshold for justifying the killing of dogs,” and it provides nearly blanket cover for officers’ behavior.
A few years back, a dog being fostered by the animal rescue where I adopted my dog was killed by a DC police officer who got off scot-free. The dog had gotten into a scuffle with another dog but was quickly restrained by the man fostering him.
That’s when a D.C. police officer took over, putting his knee in the middle of Parrot’s back while he pulled the dog’s forelegs behind him, Block [the foster owner] said. He said that the officer then grabbed Parrot by his neck and threw him over a banister at the Brass Knob antique store and that just as the dog righted itself, the officer pulled out his gun and fired. Parrot was “a full 12 to 15 steps away,” Block said, and was “making no aggressive overtures.” The dog, he noted, “doesn’t handle stairs well.”
Making the understatement of the year, the ASPCA adds, “Such incidents not only jeopardize the lives of companion animals, but also undermine the reputation of law enforcement agencies in the community.”
Change.org hosts a petition with 50,000 signatures seeking justice for Parrot — and if there’s anything to be learned from Hollywood about Americans, it’s that we’ll watch passively as people die by the dozen, but kill the dog and you’re definitely the bad guy now.