Friday, October 15, 2010

Dog Owner: Police Renege on Paying Dog's Medical Bill After Shooting

Drawing by E.E. Piphanies
What happened to Parrot, the dog shot and killed by a police officer during the 2010 Adams Morgan Day Festival, was tragic, but Parrot wasn't the only dog shot by the police in 2010. Gary Cavenner's 9-year-old dog was shot and wounded by the police last July, while the police were responding to an alarm.  According to the dog's owner, the police acknowledged that the dog, Gidget, was shot by mistake, said that they'd pay the dog's medical expenses, but now say that they won't pay the full veterinary bill, which comes to $19,000.

While the dog's owner, Gary Tavenner, maintains that the dog was well behaved, and was needlessly shot, this dispute has gone beyond whether or not the shooting was justified.  MPD Second District Commander, Matt Klein said, "The officer described the dog's behavior as being aggressive. He had his teeth exposed, his ears were pulled back and the dog was essentially running toward the officer. It's important to remember when they're responding to a burglar alarm, they're assuming that the house is being burglarized, so the officer is already under a sense of heightened alert." The dispute seems to be over whether or not the police agreed to or should pay the $19,000 bill, which was a result of the dog being shot in the leg and bladder. Here is what the dog's owner wrote on the Chevy Chase listserv yesterday about the cost of Gidget's medical care:
On July 10th this year the DC Police came to my home on McKinley Street on a false alarm and entered my fenced yard and shot my border collie two times while he was running back into the house. When the the police were at my home they said they had made a mistake and would pay the bills and they took the dog with me to Friendship Animal Hospital where they told me and the hospital that the DC Police will pay all the bills. We were also told that by multiple people including the chief Cathy Lanier. They [now] say that the 19,000 dollar bill is too much for just an animal, and made me a small offer.... The dog Gidget still has pins on the outside of her leg and has had 5 surgeries for her leg and the other bullet in her bladder...All I want is my bill paid.


  1. The police need to keep their word and pay the vet bill for Gary. The responsibility lies with the police not the owner.

  2. The article I read said the police were *considering* paying the bill, not that they'd agreed to it. Also said that the lady called the alarm company to tell them to call off the police because she knew they'd kill her dog. Why would you KNOW the police were going to kill your dog unless you also KNEW that the dog was going to give the officers a reason to do it? Too many questions.

  3. Actually, on the Fox article linked in the above post, the only thing mentioned about payment is that the owner "hopes" the department will pick up the tab. They also never said anyone "shot the dog by mistake." Obviously, it was not a mistake. They fully meant to shoot the dog because they claim the dog was being aggressive. That's not a mistake.

  4. the reason the lady said that they will kill her dog is because they killed our other dog 7 years ago by letting the dogs run out when they came by the house when they opened the gate and the dogs were there the police just left the gate open and left 20 min later they hit the dog and killed it

  5. The problem here is that Friendship Hospital for Animals charges excessive fees for its services and operates more like a business than a vet hospital. The MPD is most likely justified in recognizing that Friendship is trying to make some bucks off the incident, especially when it thinks there are 'deep pockets' to pay.

    A few years back I brought my dog there under what I thought were 'urgent care' circumstances and they checked herin to give her daily treatments I'd initially been led to believe would solve the issue. 5 days later I received a call from their 'management' saying I needed to come in and pay their $3,500 bill and 'put the dog down'. (Now, that $3,500 didn't even include the daily feedings which I was told I needed to do myself since the dog required to be hand-fed, and their staff 'didn't do that'.) When I questioned why the treatments hadn't worked, I was told 'they were just to make the pet comfortable, the dog won't recover and needs to be put down, please come in and pay your bill immediately'. I paid the bill, checked the dog out and kept her comfortable at home myself for the next 4 weeks ... until the real time came to have her put down.

    MPD is correct to balk at $19,000 ... it's unreasonable.

    1. how can you say it is unreasonable when you dont know what was done.
      for one they had to reattach my dogs leg with 5 surgeries plus open her abdomin and remove bullits form her bladder
      also frienship hospital charged me 1500 fifteen hundred the surgeries wer done by VRA in gaithersburg md