Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adams Morgan Dog Shooting Justified, Says a Dog Lover

The coverage of the shooting of a dog by a police officer during the Adams Morgan Day Festival last Sunday has generated a lot of attention -- and condemnation. Most reports have been sympathetic to the dog, calling the police officer's actions unjustified and cruel.

But was the shooting justified? One dog lover and pet store employee thinks so. The blogger "Confessions of a Pet Store Employee" writes:
This officer was in a crowd of people, with a dog he did not know, that was trying to bite him. When he got to the realization that this dog which was acting aggressively and had already bitten one dog and at least one person might get loose in a crowd of people that included small children, he made the decision to throw the dog down a stairwell.
This accomplished three things. The officer tried to non-fatally injure the dog enough to back the dog down. It got the dog far enough away from the officer in one movement that the dog could not bite him immediately. It gave the officer enough distance to judge if the dog was going to come back aggressively and the distance to take a shot if need be, and the dog was down a stairwell, so he wouldn't be shooting into a crowd of people. That's some damn good fast thinking. 90% of us wouldn't have been able to do that. He neutralized a threat without harming innocent bystanders. Just what he was trained to do. Good job officer.
You can read the entire article here.

Thanks to DC Blogs and Confessions of a Pet Store Employee for spotting and sharing this.


  1. The shooting might be indeed justifiable if the facts of this sad incident happened as stated in the pet employee's summary.

    But there are published accounts from eyewitnesses and the dog's owner that contradict this version of events. First, Parrot, the shar-pei, which was on leash and under control of its owner (actually, its foster handler, since it was a rescue dog) was the one first bitten by the poodle. Any biting that Parrot did during that scuffle was instinctive and normal for a dog in those circumstances. Second, the dogs were successfully pulled apart and the Parrot's owner was there to take control of the dog and calm him down. But, he said, the police office "knocked him aside," grabbed the dog, put his weight on it to complete subdue the dog (this was shown in the photos) and then after that, threw the dog down the stair well. When the dog got up, not terribly injured by the fall, the officer shot the dog. It was all very fast. Witnesses say no one was ever in danger. Parrot did not bite any human, but scratched one, an injury that required no medical attention.

    I was not there and so cannot make a judgment about the accuracy of the witnesses whose accounts I read, but there were several, and they all agree, and they contradict the police officer's account on a few key points. This petstore employee may choose to believe the officer's version, but I think we need to wait for the results of an unbiased investigation before calling the action "justified" or taking the opposite tack, calling for the police officer to be disciplined.

    Let's just be patient, everyone. This isn't just about a dog, but about deadly use of force at a public event. Let everyone testify under oath, and see which version of events holds up.

  2. The cop's job is to protect people first. Dogs come second. All the evidence points to a dangerous dog. What would have happened if the dog escaped and the cop had to shoot the dog in the crowd? And then missed?

  3. Just because you are a pet store employee and a dog lover does not mean you know jack about dogs.

    Let me posit a different view, which I posted on DCist as well.

    Any vet or animal behaviorist will tell you that a dog, no matter how gentle or tame, in fear or in pain is at its highest likelihood to bite. So IF, and that's making an assumption I don't believe in, IF Parrot bit the Officer, it was the Officer's own fault.

    Parrot was reported to have been injured by the poodle, which had reportedly latched onto his faced and refused to let go.

    ANY two dogs interacting, even playing happily, can get overstimulated and start fighting. Responsible owners, at off leash dog parks, WATCH their dogs so that when these situations arise, they can act quickly to separate the dogs and allow them to CALM DOWN, even if it means leaving the park.

    Parrot's handler had done exactly what he was supposed to do - gained control of his dog and was giving him time to calm down before going back into the crowd.

    Fike charged in, got into a confrontation with the human handling Parrot, physically assaulted that person (Parrot's caretaker) - stress and fear for the dog - grabbed Parrot's hind legs, forced him to the ground, and pinned him down with his knee, as the photo showed. All direct infliction of pain and fear. Any dog might have bitten if handled that way. Yet the Officer's own report states he received only an "abrasion." He declined medical attention. Very vicious dog, clearly.
    Fike then swung Parrot into the air, over the rail, into the basement stairwell, and shot him.
    Assuming that Parrot tried to get back up the stairs, why would that surprise you? Why would that indicate he was dangerous? Was Parrot supposed to understand that he was being ordered by a POLICEMAN to stay at the bottom of a stairwell?

    What a completely ridiculous analysis. Read some books on dog behavior. The dog was restrained and should have been LEFT THE HELL ALONE.

  4. It seems that humans can be just as vicious as dogs. Please, I'm asking nicely. Kindly post your point of view without feeling the need to personally attack the opinions of another. That makes you not much better than rabid yourself. We are neighbors -- all of us -- and I love this site because it embraces conversation and debate, which are different from bullying and verbal diatribes. We can disagree considerably but would be best served if we did so respectfully.

    And no... I suppose I don't know this Jack fella either.

  5. Subduing the dog was justified. Shooting the dog was not. Rarely if ever is shooting a dog a justifiable reaction to anything