Around a hundred dog owners attended a protest rally at the Lancaster City police station in Pennsylvania Thursday, attendee Vanessa Horne, who spoke with Police State Daily, said.
Protestors assembled after a pit bull was shot and killed by a Lancaster Police Officer in an arcade parking lot the day before.
Officers say they received a call about an “aggressive dog” loose in the parking lot of Hager Arcade located at 25 W. King St, Wednesday. Police say the caller claimed the canine jumped out of the back of its owners truck before he tried to capture it, but could not.
The initial response was handled by a Civilian Service Aide (CSA). Typically CSAs handle low priority calls for service such as parking complaints, remove boots from vehicles, assist with traffic control when needed and take found/stray dogs to SPCA(Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
From a Statement released by the Lancaster City Police Department:
“…The CSA found that the dog in question had moved to the rear of a silver SUV parked in lot. The CSA asked for an Officer to respond with a snare in order to take the dog into custody. The dog reportedly barked at the CSA and retreated into the cargo area of the SUV. The owner of the SUV was on-scene with the CSA. The SUV owner was not the owner of the dog.
The first responding Officer arrived at approximately 1626 hrs. That Officer attempted to remove persons from around the vehicle for their safety. That Officer was met with passive and verbal resistance to his instructions to move away from the dog and the SUV. At one point one of those males intentionally placed himself between the officer and dog. The officer handcuffed this individual in order to keep him from interfering with the officer’s efforts and for the safety of the individual. This individual was later released without charges. At one point, the dog bit a bag an individual was carrying.
Efforts were made to locate the owner of the pickup truck and dog. Despite those efforts, no one was able to contact or locate the owner as it was registered to an out-of-county address.
Secondary Officers arrived with a cable-loop snare. Those Officers approached the silver vehicle and attempted to snare the dog. The dog bit at the snare and was not able to be secured. An Officer utilized an Electronic Control Device (ECD/commonly referred to as a ‘Taser’) in an effort to momentarily incapacitate the dog. The ECD did not have the intended effect and the dog ran from the rear of the SUV. The dog was no longer confined to any vehicle. The first responding Officer saw that the dog had stopped, turned and was growling at him with the hackles up on its back. Fearing that the dog might attack an Officer or person in the area, the Officer fired (2) rounds from his rifle, hitting the dog with both shots. The dog died as a result of the shots fired…”
Police say the owner of the dog was not in the area at the time but returned after the animal was killed. He was notified of the situation.
“During the rally, protesters were on hand with signs and their canines to voice concerns about how dogs are being treated by police, not only in Lancaster, but around the country,” Vanessa Horne said in an email interview. “We want police departments to improve how they handle animal situations by providing appropriate training to their officers.”
Horne says that at the high point of the event, there were probably around 100 attendees, though local news outlets claimed only a few dozen. “I think this is an issue that resonates with most every dog owner,” she said. “It seems like every other day its in the news; Another defenseless animal shot by police with improper training that didn’t know how to deal effectively with a canine. You would think a 250 pound police officer could subdue a 50 pound animal without having to kill it.”
The problem of police officers shooting dogs with impunity is not new but has reached a fever pitch in recent years as documenting the events have become easier. In fact, the incidents are so prevalent, animal rights activists have even developed a term to describe them: “Puppycide.”
It’s not clear how often police kill animals when they arguably don’t need to. There are no state databases, and it’s not a category in municipal crime reports. Neither the FBI nor the Bureau of Justice Statistics collect data on dog shootings.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service knows exactly how many mail carriers were bitten by dogs, but no one seems to know how many are being killed by law enforcement. Some have attempted to undertake the task however.
Filmmakers Patrick Reasonover and Michael “Oz” Ozias tried to nail down a rough estimate as part of their research for a documentary called Puppycide. After doing alot of Freedom of Information Act requests and tallying up accounts of dog-shootings from news stories across the country, the duo came up with a figure: One dog is killed every 98 minutes by a police officer in the United States.
The number is not confirmed by any “official” sources but is startling to say the least. Especially because the filmmakers claim the number is actually probably much higher, saying they used the figure as a “low estimate.”
No Lancaster Police Officers attended the rally. Police State Daily requests for comment were not returned.