A Southwest Florida couple says a Collier County sheriff’s deputy unnecessarily killed their 11-year-old mixed breed lab, Alf, after responding to a domestic disturbance call last week.
Officers arrived at the East Naples home of Jessica Busse and her boyfriend Ben Zacks last Saturday at 2:30 a.m. and separated the couple and helped them pack belongings to spend the night apart.
Busse says Alf was asleep in the bathroom and woke up and came out before an unidentified deputy – who claimed he was “in fear for his life or being seriously injured” – opened fire on the animal.
Police reports say the officer fired five times, hitting Alf in the side and face, killing her, as the animal ran towards him while barking.
The report also claimed that the canine was a only a foot away from the deputy when the gun was fired, but the couple says there were at least 18 feet between the dog and the officer.
“She was no where near him,” Zacks said. “I heard her yelp and I was outside. I screamed, ‘Did you shoot my dog?’ and several more gun[shots] went off. Never has [Alf] ever bitten anybody or even growled.”
The couple claims there are other inconsistencies in the report and say the Busse was standing “right near the spot where the gunshots where fired.”
“[The deputy] didn’t put my life into consideration,” Busse said. “I was terrified. Why could he tell me, ‘grab your dog.’ Why couldn’t he have said ‘I’m about to shoot?'”
The couple says they support law enforcement officers and have not yet taken any legal action against the department but have hired a private investigator to review the incident.
In recent years, the killing of canines by police has become a contentious issue resulting in the creation of the term “puppycide.”
Advocates of ending “puppycide” point to the blaring double standard that exists between police and the rest of the population.
While police dogs are more or less considered human beings in terms of the rights they posses when harmed by suspects, ordinary pets of private citizens killed or harmed by police enjoy no such protections.
Animal rights activists and civil libertarians say the shootings are widespread and result from officers having little-to-no training on how to deal with canines.
In most cases, advocates say, officers simply react inappropriately to the playful nature of the animals, who are usually just running up to them to say hello or bite playfully at their heels.
Some analysts have claimed that a dog is shot by police in the U.S. every 98 minutes.
The couple says they hope the incident will ” be an eye-opener and prompt better incident training for deputies in the future.”