Federal Cop Shoots Dog at a Dog Park. No Charges.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I’ve been to many a dog park. I’ve seen lots of dogs scuffle at those parks. It happens. Most owners pull the dogs apart and, if they can’t get along, one or both dogs leave the park. The possibility of someone pulling out a gun and shooting a dog has never really even crossed my mind. But maybe that’s because I’m not a cop.

Stunned dog owners and residents of a Severn neighborhood are shocked that authorities won’t be charging a federal police officer who shot and killed a Siberian husky Monday night at a community dog park.

Bear-Bear, a brown and white husky that was about 3 years old, was playing in the Quail Run dog park at about 6:30 p.m., running off leash inside the fenced-in area, when the officer and his wife arrived with a German shepherd, who was kept on a leash. When the dogs began to play roughly, the federal officer asked Bear-Bear’s guardian, his owner’s brother, to call off the dog. But before he could do anything, the officer pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear, according to the husky’s owner.

Bear-Bear, who belongs to Rachel Rettaliala, died of his injuries a few hours later. County police did not name the federal officer.

The article points out that huskies have a rough style of play, so it’s likely that this cop, like plenty of others, mistook non-aggressive behavior for an attack. (Huskies are also an especially gentle, non-aggressive breed.) The fact that the cop had his dog on-leash at an off-leash park is more evidence that he doesn’t know much about how dogs behave. That’s never a good idea (most parks don’t allow it). It invites an altercation.

But that’s all really beside the point. I’m certain that if I (or anyone else who isn’t a cop) pulled out a gun and shot a dog at a dog park in a residential area, I’d be facing criminal charges. And rightly so. Even if the dogs were fighting, there’s no justification for shooting one of them, particularly around other dogs and people. It’s reckless, trigger-happy, and dangerous. It’s also safe to say that if this had been anyone other than a cop, the local police department would have no qualms about releasing his name to the press.

MORE: Baltimore radio station WBAL interviews Rachel Rettaliata, the owner of the dog, here and here. According to Rettaliata local animal control officials said neither animal had any scratch or bite marks.


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119 Responses to “Federal Cop Shoots Dog at a Dog Park. No Charges.”

  1. #1 |  JOR | 

    #99,

    Nevermind the dog for a minute – whipping out and discharging a firearm in a densely populated urban area (to protect your own dog! or at least gratuitously risk its safety by shooting another dog that is wrestling with it) is “excessive” the same way that raping and murdering a six-year-old is “kinda mean”.

    Anyway, even if we were talking about the pig fearing for his own safety, well, he’s a pig, and they’re of far less moral concern than dogs.

  2. #2 |  -jc | 

    What the Sage of Baltimore wrote about police:
    • “The Nature of Liberty,” by H.L. Mencken – Classic American Essays http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:vc3haSh7SsYJ:grammar.about.com/od/classicessays/a/libertyhlm.htm+The+Nature+of+Liberty,+by+H.L.+Mencken&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

    And it was VERY tongue-in-cheek:
    • H. L. Mencken: The Joyous Libertarian by Murray N. Rothbard http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Lq4uROsvIjYJ:www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard19.html+The+Nature+of+Liberty,+by+H.L.+Mencken&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

  3. #3 |  -jc | 

    Okay, here’s how it worked 30+ years ago. If you were a federal agent and you screwed your gun in somebody’s ear and anyone thought it inappropriate, you were on paid “administrative leave” during the investigation, meaning while an investigator for your agency either really looked into what happened or did some “creative writing.”

    Furhtermore, as to carrying a “personal” firearm off-duty, one had to have written approval for that specific weapon, so that these security guard types didn’t play out their Dirty Harry fantasies by carrying inappropriate weapons. My guess is that this cop was issued a .45 ACP GLOCK 21 as a duty weapon and that he went out and bought a little 9 mm to carry off-duty and didn’t have it approved. Furthermore, if evidence surfaces of creating paper after-the-fact to try to cover this up, I’d push for more than this apparently punk kid’s removal from D.O.D.

  4. #4 |  -jc | 

    Apparently this blogger thinks he has identified the shooter: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=142251502461794

  5. #5 |  -jc | 

    Shooter originally dentified here http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/cxge7/offduty_police_officer_shoots_a_beloved_dog/c0w6zd6

  6. #6 |  Laura | 

    His name is Keith Shepherd and he is a civilian police officer at Fort Myer, VA Army base.

    Anne Arundel County Police Department at first decided that no “criminal activity” took place, but after outraged citizens inundated County Executive John Leopold with phone calls, he demanded that AACPD investigate the shooting. The investigation isn’t complete, but upon doing some actual police work, AACPD believes that this officer may not have been authorized to carry a weapon off-duty!!!

    So much for no criminal activity. So, had the citizens of Anne Arundel not been so outraged over this reckless use of force, the AACPD would have been content to not investigate, leaving this guy to continue to carry his weapon ILLEGALLY.

  7. #7 |  Silver | 

    @99:

    You’re a fucking moron, who doesn’t know the first thing about either dogs or the situation, and you still feel qualified to comment?

    The husky was in a fenced area at a FUCKING GODDAMNED DOG PARK. In case you’re not aware, Radley helpfully posted in the story that bringing a leashed dog into a dog park is a bad idea. Did you miss that part?

    Both dogs off leash will sniff, look at each other, maybewrestle, make some noises, and generally greet and play. One dog on a leash is a bad idea, because he’s limited in how he can react, and is artificially under the control of a human when the other dog is trying to act…like a dog.

    Jesus Fucking Christ, is it too hard to read into Radley’s second paragraph?

  8. #8 |  Friday Quick Links | Survivalism Now | 

    […] Cop shoots dog at dog park – No charges. […]

  9. #9 |  Roundup – The Information Superhighway « The Heat Death Hour | 

    […] Federal Cop Shoots Dog at a Dog Park. No Charges. [The Agitator] […]

  10. #10 |  Ed | 

    So this guy really thought the Husky was going to kill his dog, then his wife and then him !?
    I think this man is looking for a job with Michael Vick !

  11. #11 |  kranky | 

    apparently cops have a rough style of play as well. what a prick.

  12. #12 |  -jc | 

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/04/former-la-county-assistant-fire-chief-glynn-johnson-sentenced-in-dog-beating.html Former L.A. County assistant fire chief sentenced in puppy beating death
    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/Felony-Animal-Cruelty-Charge-Glynn-Demon-Johnson.html Ex-Fire Official Who Beat Dog Ordered to Stand Trial
    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/LA-County-Assistant-Fire-Chief-Says-He-Killed-Neighbors-Dog-in-Self-Defense.html LA County Asst. Fire Chief Says He Killed Neighbor’s Dog in Self-Defense … noted that California Penal Code Section 597 makes it a felony for anyone to maliciously and intentionally maim, torture or wound a living animal.

  13. #13 |  -jc | 

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/04/former-la-county-assistant-fire-chief-glynn-johnson-sentenced-in-dog-beating.html Former L.A. County assistant fire chief sentenced in puppy beating death

    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/Felony-Animal-Cruelty-Charge-Glynn-Demon-Johnson.html Ex-Fire Official Who Beat Dog Ordered to Stand Trial

    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/LA-County-Assistant-Fire-Chief-Says-He-Killed-Neighbors-Dog-in-Self-Defense.html LA County Asst. Fire Chief Says He Killed Neighbor’s Dog in Self-Defense … noted that California Penal Code Section 597 makes it a felony for anyone to maliciously and intentionally maim, torture or wound a living animal.

  14. #14 |  too many dumb cops | 

    Least we forget, the cop’s dog came out completely unharmed.

    If there was some life threatening scenario unfolding, how come his dog wasn’t seen by the vet clinic? Surely, there should be some physical evidence to back up their claims. At least one puncture wound. I mean the cop said “Bear Bear” was attacking and biting… where’s the evidence of an attack?

    The reality of the situation is very clear. There was no life threatening scenario, no need to respond with lethal force, no need to behave as he did, but Keith Shepherd is obviously the idiot here, and not the alleged “slow responding” 23 year old handler of “Bear Bear”.

  15. #15 |  Flight-ER-Doc | 

    Today, as most days, my 2 year old siberian, Angel, played with her best friend a 4 month old, 55 lb Italian Mastif…Floyd.

    There was much wrestling, biting of necks and legs, pining to the ground, jumping upon each other, snarling.

    Just two dogs playing. How is it some moron with a duty-only badge and an unlawfully carried gun gets a pass?

  16. #16 |  Jon | 

    You people that generalize about “cops” are fucking ridiculous. I agree…this asshole should be gang-raped in front of his whole family and shot in the face for what he did…there is just no excuse. Especially since the prick had his dog on lead…a no no at the park. But blaming “cops” is asinine. That’s about as stupid as saying the Husky is a “volatile breed”. If you really feel that way about cops…don’t call them next time you’re in danger. He does need to be in jail though…cop or no cop.

  17. #17 |  Flight-ER-Doc | 

    Jon, you miss the point: This asshole is getting a pass because he’s almost a cop. Any ‘civilian’ that did that would still be in jail.

  18. #18 |  Big Jim | 

    I have a dog park near my home.After an incident with an unruly doberman biting my terriers leg,I began to carry a piece of iron gas pipe every time I went there.Well a week later,mr. doberman shows up and makes a bee line toward my dog.I pulled out the pipe and rapped that dog on the top of his nose and gave him one across his hind leg when he retreated.Problem solved,son.

  19. #19 |  tim gier » Blog Archive » Dog Killer Cop | 

    […] Radley Balko, who writes extensively about the excessive use of force by police wrote about the story here. Andrew Sullivan linked to Balko’s story and subsequently posted a response to that post by one […]