The LA Times has a story in its Sunday edition about the LAPD’s policy on shooting animals in self-defense. This topic is on the forefront of many people’s minds after the unnecessary (in my opinion) shooting of the pitbull Teri on February 16; this was reported in many publications including blogging.la. According to today’s article, (which I hope you click and read the whole thing) the shooting animals apparently isn’t all that uncommon.
Since 1985, police have shot at more than 465 dogs, killing at least
200 and wounding at least 140, according to incident reports…The standard an officer must follow when shooting a dog is the same as
for shooting a person: as a last resort to avoid death or serious
injury. When dogs are involved, officers often believe they are going
to be bitten, which is why many of the animals shot by police were pit
bull terriers, Rottweilers and other breeds that have reputations for
Some believe that officers simply need to be better trained:
Randall Lockwood, a psychologist and animal behaviorist with the Humane
Society of the United States who has worked with police agencies on
issues relating to dogs, said most officers are not adequately trained
to handle confrontations with aggressive dogs. Lockwood said he thought
the number of dogs shot at by LAPD officers was "surprisingly high."
"Police departments throughout the country need to develop better
training so officers can more accurately assess which dogs are
life-threatening and dangerous and which ones are not," Lockwood said.
"Our opinion is that often, lethal use of force is not required or
justified," he said. "In many cases, a shooting is a knee-jerk reaction
by an officer not familiar with dogs. We have to acknowledge that there
are situations where they have to shoot a dog, but we feel that’s
People can be weird about dogs even if they aren’t the stereotyped aggressive kind. For instance, I took my boys to an art walk last Thursday. We walked into a gallery where two little boys were running around screaming. Lebowski let out a bark and the boys were anxious to get near them; the people little boys could care less. So my dogs are just standing there as I talk to someone and this security guard tells me to hold my dogs for the safety of the children. It doesn’t matter that two 7 year olds are running around artwork but my 7 pound dog on a tight leash is a threat? So I turned around and left. Although I am grateful there wasn’t any shooting involved – I mean, it was downtown Los Angeles!