They Always Shoot the Dog

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

A cop on a paramilitary drug raid decided to cut across the lawn at an adjacent home. The homeowner’s watch dogs did exactly what they’re supposed to do when an uninvited guest trespasses on the property. They attacked.

So the cop shot ’em

One thing I’ve noticed while picking through the depressingly long list of botched drug raids:

The cops always shoot the dog.

I guess it’s to get them out of the way. Given all the armor SWAT teams usually don, it’s certainly not out of fear for their own safety.

When the target of the raid and the dog’s owner proves to be innocent, a low-level pissant offender, or a medical marijuana patient (and there are multiple examples of all three), there’s generally no apology or compensation from the police department for needlessly pumping the famiily dog full of lead. What’s worse, most courts the monetary value on the loss of a pet at zero. So should the neighborhood SWAT team erroneously break into your house and kill your dog, you can forget about a lawsuit.

On a slightly lighter note, I relayed my “they always shoot the dog” observation to a colleague here at Cato. He told me he’s discoverd something as he’s given interviews and speeches over the years about the Waco massacre.

Apparently, people who think that perhaps the government acted properly in invading and burning down a house of largely innocent (but admidetly weird) people get really pissed off when they learn that the federal government also slaughtered the Brand Davidian dogs. Women and children? Meh. Weirdo cultists probably deserved it. But…

“They killed the dogs? Aw, man. That’s bullshit.”

I’ll need to remember that when I’m promoting this paper.

Here’s a particularly egregious example of puppy-cide from Marcicopa County, Arizona, home of conservative darling and self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” Joe Arpaio. After conducting a ridiculously bumbling and overly militaristic raid that netted a total of one arrest for outstanding traffic violations, a raid which subsequently set a friggin’ house on fire, and in which the sheriff’s armored personnel carrier (yes, he has one) lost its brakes and rolled down the street, smashing a car — the SWAT team wasn’t quite done:

[I]n the ultimate display of cruelty, a SWAT team member drove a dog trying to flee the home back into the inferno, where it met an agonizing death.

Deputies then reportedly laughed as the dog’s owners came unglued as it perished in the blaze.

“I was crying hysterically,” Andrea Barker, one of the dog’s owners, tells me. “I was so upset. They [deputies] were laughing at me.”

Making fun of the 10-month-old pit bull puppy’s death wasn’t enough.

Arpaio’s goons then left the dog’s body to rot in the ashes for the next five days of 105-degree temperatures. A pall of death hung over the neighborhood. It was a putrid reminder of Arpaio’s reckless use of force and callous disregard for the public’s welfare. Not to mention the heinous treatment toward the terrified dog.

More details:

Within minutes, the upstairs of the house was engulfed in flames. Kush, Barker says, could hear Dre, his prized pit-bull puppy, yelping, and he jumped from the attic to try to save the dog.

As black smoke billowed from the house, Barker says, Kush frantically tried to get Dre to run outside, the puppy yelping “like a baby.”

At one point, Dre ran from the master bedroom and bolted down the stairs toward the front door, where it came face to face with a SWAT team member. Instead of letting the dog run outside, the SWAT member reportedly launched a counterattack.

“They shot the dog in the face with a fire extinguisher when he tried to come out of the fire,” says Trisha Golden, Gabrial’s younger sister, who helped raise the dog and was outside the burning home calling for it to come out. She did not live at the house, but hung out there frequently, she says. She heard about the fire and came immediately. “He turned and ran back into the master bedroom and burned [to death].”

Delfino says he asked one of the SWAT officers what happened to Dre and was told that the dog had been “neutralized” with the fire extinguisher. He asked the officer if the dog had attacked anybody, and the cop said no.

As smoke filled the house and Kush’s efforts to save the dog failed, he finally fled from the burning home and was immediately thrown to the ground and his hands and feet were cuffed by four SWAT officers.

Only one guy was charged as a result of the raid. And as noted, he was charged with outstanding traffic violations.

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2 Responses to “They Always Shoot the Dog”

  1. #1 |  Hammer of Truth | 

    PETA: Unlikely Ally Against the Drug War?

    Radley Balko notes that there’s a growing trend for cops to shoot dogs in their botched drug raids, even when it’s a neighbor’s dog in a yard they’re cutting through:
    When the target of the raid and the dog’s owner prove…

  2. #2 |  Classical Values | 

    war on dogs?

    In a comment to my earlier post about the shooting of a dog by Philadelphia police, NickL pointed out that “it seems that it is now standard practice for police to shoot the family dog when turning up to arrest…