Action News viewers sound off on police killing pets

Darcy Spears

Photo: Video by ktnv.com

Action News viewers sound off on police killing pets

CREATED Nov. 27, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Police using deadly force against dogs. Action News first aired this Contact 13 investigation last week and were flooded with Facebook comments.

As Darcy Spears reports, most of you think police are unnecessarily killing pets, but some say they're just protecting themselves and the public.

"A warrant served. A dog encountered. An assist from Animal Control. And the successful seizure of drugs, money and a suspect arrested and charged."

That scenario plays out in a training video put out by the U.S. Department of Justice.

It seeks to hold police accountable for how and when force is used to keep the peace.

"That applies not only to the people they serve, it applies to dogs," said Terry Hillard, retired Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, who helped make the video.

It should be a last resort, but often, the D.O.J. says officers shoot first. 

Between Metro, North Las Vegas and Henderson, police have used deadly force against 41 dogs in the past three years. Many of them died.

Metro killed Sarah Rose Hecht's dog, Freckles, in May, by running it over, saying the dog was posing a threat to neighborhood children.

Says Sarah Rose, "Our animals are truly a part of our heart. And to just be so savage and make the decision to take that away from somebody is outrageous."

"We need to prevent these tragic incidents from occurring. Training officers to understand animal behavior is a great start," explains Gina Greisen of Nevada Voters for Animals.

She's working with State Senator David Parks to draft a new law that would require more training for cops when it comes to dealing with dogs.

"Officers have an entire tool belt full of tools that they can use," says Greisen. "There's mace, there's a baton, there's a flashlight, there's a Taser, there's so many other less lethal options."

Most viewers who sounded off on our Facebook page agree with Greisen.

Bailey Rae wrote, "There's so many things they can do different to prevent from killing the animals. The dogs are doing their duty by protecting our yards."

Jeanie adds, "I think police officers have one of the hardest jobs there is, but I don't think they have been trained to treat pets as the furry family members they are."

And Anne Marie sums up, "A cop can recover from a dog attack.  A dog cannot recover from a bullet."

"They try very hard to avoid the animals," says Keith Paul, spokesperson for the Henderson Police Department. "They even have catch poles in most of the supervisors cars and when the opportunity arises, you hope to be able to call Animal Control to take care of the animals."

North Las Vegas Police say that step is rarely taken.

"That really doesn't always happen. Animal Control is used most of the time for when we get situations of animals running at large or there's been a dog bite call," explains NLVPD Officer Chrissie Coon.

Erik writes, "I am a cop. Bottom line is "read the dog". Just because a dog is running at you doesn't mean it wants to rip you apart. Mine wants to slobber all over you and take you home."

And from Alison, "Think real carefully before you judge these cops for what they're doing. They're entering a potentially dangerous situation and a dog is coming at them. Though it's there protecting its home and family, they are as dangerous as a bullet. Realize police are there to serve the community and keep you safe."

No matter what you believe, it seems just about everyone supports more training. 

If you'd like to share your thoughts with Sen. Parks as he works to craft our new state law, send him an email at David.Parks@sen.state.nv.us.

You may also reach out to Nevada Voters for Animals through their Facebook page.

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