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Chicago Police Superintendent Defends Dog Shooting Cop


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Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy commented on the police officer shooting of a puppy. Based on witness accounts, the police should be apologizing for the grief they cause this family and the suffering they’ve caused to a puppy named Colonel Phillips (who by the way was back in the hospital, after undergoing several hours of surgery and being released).

Instead, in my view, sadly McCarthy made an embarrassing situation, worse for the police – at least from a public relations standpoint.

McCarthy told reporters in a cavalier manner that dogs get shot all the time. And continued, “Unfortunately officers get bit by dogs frequently,” McCarthy said. “We don’t have to wait to get bit by a dog we don’t have to wait to get shot at before we take steps to protect ourselves. We have to shoot dogs frequently in the city. There’s a story about last night where we made a robbery arrest and somebody released a pit bull and attacked the officer and had to be shot.”

Well, superintendent – first of all, in that story you mention, I believe the dog threatened the officer. When threatened, of course, police should defend themselves. This was not only a puppy (7-months old) but a puppy who was merely standing there wagging his tail, according to all witness accounts. Second, with all those witnesses around, one could have been shot as easily as the puppy.

Maybe, though, police shouldn’t be so trigger happy when it comes to dogs in the first place – not only in Chicago, but nationwide. It seems there’s no defense for what the police officer did, and, so far, no explanation.

McCarthy had no comment on why two days later police show up – two honchos from the department, asking about all the press attention. When the family defended their decision to go to the press, the police issued a ticket – again two days later – for the puppy being off leash. At the time of the shooting, according to witness accounts, the officer only suggested the owner, Al Phillips pick up his dog. Phillips says he did not hear the officer, who shot twice within seconds after the ‘warning.’ The officer not only didn’t issue a ticket for the dog being off-leash at the time of the incident, but also didn’t suggest the owner leash the dog.

And – oh boy – perhaps a pup looking like a pit bull sort of dog (a Miniature Bull Terrier is actually the breed of this pup), may have prompted the trigger happy response. It seems the superintendent made a point of saying in the other incident the dog was a pit bull. By the way, it may well be – as they often are – the dog identified as a pit bull really was not. No matter, if pit bulls are being targeted, that flies in the face of what all dog behavior and veterinary groups agree on – pit bulls, per se, are merely dogs and not inherently born dangerous.

What McCarthy should do, first, investigate the officer, to discern what his “issue” was. Second, apologize to the family. And third, concede Chicago police officers (who mostly do the right thing relative to animals) undergo training to understand canine body language, and that most important – they do not have the right to shoot dogs without due cause.

update: Colonel Phillips is expected to be back home by this evening, and though tired (of course), is doing well.

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