Dec 14, 2012 - Animal Policy    11 Comments

You Shoot My Dog, I’ll Sue Your City

Earlier this month, dog lovers everywhere were outraged after a police officer shot Colonel, a non-threatening, 29-pound, seven-month-old puppy. Thankfully, Colonel received medical attention and survived his injuries (though it certainly couldn’t have been fun having shrapnel removed from his belly). After the incident, Al and Barbara Phillips, Colonel’s owners, filed a lawsuit against Chicago and the shooter, which is now going to federal court.

According to neighbors (and the lawsuit), aside from not being much of a physical threat, Colonel was wagging and behaving in a completely non-threatening manner. This really makes you wonder what kind of experience and/or training police officers have when it comes to differentiating between friendly and vicious dogs — because it’s not like this is the first time a restrained or non-threatening dog has been shot by police. After international furor over a pointlessly tragic dog shooting in Austin, Texas, steps have been taken to prevent this kind of tragedy from occurring in the future… how long (and how many lawsuits) before Chicago does the same?

The Phillips’ are seeking at least $350k in damages:

The seven-count suit claims excessive force, illegal seizure, violations of their right to due process and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Phillips also claim police retaliated against them for exercising their right to free speech, in speaking to the news crew.

And in case you were wondering, this is the dog that so frightened the police officer:

  • kaylor2008

    The only training police receive is “If you think its a threat, shoot it” and if its a dog, they shoot it even quicker than if its a human. I would add “malicicous destruction of property” to the charges. A dog is, legally, your personal property. If they are afraid of dogs, they could ask you to restrain, but they know they can get away with shooting, most of the time.

    • Kaylor, I agree with all you said, except that “most of the time” was unnecessary. I’ve been following these stories since Michael Paxton’s dog Cisco was killed last year, and while I’ve seen an occasional legal judgement against the city, I cannot recall even once reading of an officer disciplined, even when subsequent videotapes showed him to be a liar.

  • Cathy Cee

    My local animal shelter spends a day with each class of police recruits teaching what they know about dog behavior and care. The shelter personal have a good relationship with local police and sheriff departments. The shelter calls them for people problems and law enforcement calls the shelter for dog problems.
    Why doesn’t this happen in every county?

  • Update?

  • maxiemom

    If they’re afraid of dogs they have NO business being cops, since the majority of households in this country have dogs. They had no right to shoot a dog because they’re too lazy to use pepper spray or simply because it’s easier, which is most often the excuse they use for shooting rather than using non-lethal methods. No one with that kind of callous disregard for life has any business being a cop— EVER.

  • I am starting to think that police training is: if it makes you happy, shoot any dog; the department will cover for you. I hope these people and everyone else gets more than they ask; this will not change until they get sued enough that they can no longer afford bullets. Law-abiding dog guardians who pay attention are more afraid of police than criminals.

  • Every time I read of a family dog being wounded or killed by a trigger happy police officer, it makes me a little crazy that the police are never held accountable.

  • Don’t forget the attempted cover-up and intimidation by the supervisors

  • Stephanie Hedgepath

    Just happened again in Columbia, SC. Allegedly, this dog was roaming at large and menaced a jogger. The policeman who shot him said that the dog charged him when he went onto their property and knocked on the front door. The policeman stated, “He charged me, I had to shoot him.” The saddest part of all of this is this statement “She was still moving 30 minutes later and I asked if I could take her
    to the vet and they said no,” said a neighbor. “And that’s when one of
    the police officers asked the other police officer to get a tarp and
    just covered her up.” Now I read that the owner has been cited and must go to court. According to the story, the dog escaped from the yard. I honestly don’t know what to do about this situation. I feel certain that the officer could have handled this differently without shooting the dog. It is a pity the dog had to pay the ultimate price.

  • tom

    I raise bull terriers i have never seen an aggressive on in 50 years pit bulls a different story no matter what people say they are unpredictable a loaded shot gun on the dinning room table