Stop St. Petersburg Police from Shooting Dogs
  • Petitioned Bill Foster

This petition was delivered to:

Mayor of Saint Petersburg, Florida
Bill Foster
Police Chief of St. Petersburg, Florida
Charles Harmon

Stop St. Petersburg Police from Shooting Dogs

    1. Hand 4Paws
    2. Petition by

      Hand 4Paws

      Albuquerque, NM

  1.  
  2.   
November 2011

Victory

In response to the outcry following the shooting of a 12-year-old golden retriever named Boomer, St. Petersburg Chief of Police Charles Harmon announced changes in the Florida department’s policy on responding to animal calls and use of deadly force on animals .

More than 7,000 dog lovers joined a popular campaign on Change.org, started by Nancy Smith, who was inspired to start the campaign because of her own aging golden retriever. The online petition was in support of Boomer's owner's efforts to get justice for his dog's tragic death.

The national campaign received local media coverage leading up to the police department's press conference, where Chief Harmon announced that he would be adding language to the Department’s Use of Force Policy to specify that the use of deadly force on an animal is only authorized “if it poses an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to a person.” In addition, the department is purchasing equipment to help with the humane capture of dogs and, as a matter of policy, will defer all animal-related incidents to the experts at Animal Control whenever possible.

Thanks to pressure from dog lovers across the country, St. Petersburg Police Department has created a model policy for limiting the use of deadly force on animals.

When a police officer's first line of defense in restraining an animal is to reach for a weapon, it is sending the wrong message to the community that they swore to uphold and protect. If the police officer is the first responder involving an animal, then the police officers should be trained in animal control techniques. The "uncooperative animal" that the police officer may kill could be someone's senior pet who could be afraid, deaf, or in pain and not able to respond to the officer's request. 

Boomer, the 12-year-old arthritic Golden Retriever shown in this photo, was shot and killed by St. Petersburg Police in October. His death is tragic enough on its own, but the fact that he was the 7th dog killed by the police department this year shows that the officers not only need training, but a clear policy that encourages non-lethal dog handling techniques.

St. Petersburg Police Department must adopt a new policy for standing operating procedure when they deal with canines that incorporates a force continuum, with lethal force as a last resort.

If you would like to read more about Boomer, his Facebook page is called Boomer's Voice, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Boomers-Voice/160030397422056 where you can find photos of Boomer's life as the family pet.  Here are two articles about this tragic story: http://animalconnectionblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/police-kill-12-year-old-golden.html and http://animalconnectionblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/police-kill-12-year-old-golden.html

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Fla PD changes policy for handling dogs

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Website for law enforcement officers covers the policy change in St. Petersburg

    2. Bay News 9 reports on Boomer's campaign

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Stetson University Law Professor Peter Fitzgerald is a local supporter.

      "As an owner of golden retrievers myself, I could immediately relate to that," Professor Fitzgerald said. "But the issue of first responders, police and the rest encountering animals, they are going to encounter dogs, 40 percent or more of the population has a residence with a dog and so it's critical that they be trained on how to deal with the animal when they encounter them."

    3. Reached 7,000 signatures
    4. Animal Lovers Urge Police to Stop Using Deadly Force on Pets

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Central Florida news article includes poll on asking police to stop using deadly force.

    5. Dog's shooting death leads to campaign

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      via ohmidog!: When it comes to the seventh dog shot and killed by St. Petersburg police officers this year, the public anger is not subsiding.

      Boomer’s death is still echoing — and doing so well beyond Florida.

    6. Reached 6,000 signatures
    7. A St. Pete Dead Dog is Now a National Rallying Point

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      A local dog shot dead by a St. Petersburg police officer has become a national rallying point for police reforms. A California activist started an on-line petition after seeing a Facebook page called “Boomer’s Voice.” ... The St. Petersburg Police Department’s investigation is expected to conclude with a shooting review board next week. The board is charged with determining whether the officer complied with department policies and whether policies and/or training should be changed.

    8. Reached 4,000 signatures
    9. Thousands demand St. Pete police stop shooting dogs

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      From the Columbia County Observer

    10. Forbes: New Law Enforcement Resource for Dealing with Dogs

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      "In a nutshell, it’s an instructional manual for law enforcement nationwide on how to humanely handle and deal with dogs without resorting to lethal measures."

    11. Thousands Demand End to Police Shooting of Dogs

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      More than 3,000 people have joined a popular campaign on Change.org calling on the police department in St. Petersburg, Florida, to stop using lethal force on dogs...

    12. Reached 3,000 signatures
    13. Boomer's Family and Fans Want St. Petersburg Police to Stop Shooting Pets

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      It's a pet owner's worst nightmare: their senior, arthritic dog gets out of the yard, but instead of finding his way home or to the safety of a friendly neighbor, he's shot and killed by police. That's what happened to Boomer, the 12-year-old golden...

    14. Secretary for Mayor's office read me a statement from the Police Chief

      Hand 4Paws
      Petition Organizer

      No comments can be made about the particulars of Boomer's case since it is still under investigation. I was then read a statement from Police Chief Harmon that all police officers are provided with animal training from the SPCA and that it is now included for officers graduating from the academy. (Side note: Boomer was shot and killed by an newly appointed officer.)

      Here is the website for the police department http://www.stpete.org/police/.

      I looked through the PR and media pages on this website and did not find any statements on animal training or mandatory animal training for police officers. (This site should be updated to reflect this information.)

      The secretary explained to me that their city operates differently and that the city council are the ones who change policy. The mayor just enforces the policy.

    15. On Oct 26th, called Bill Foster, the mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida

      Hand 4Paws
      Petition Organizer

      The Mayor was in a meeting and his secretary asked what matter was I speaking to him about. I explained I was calling in behalf of Hand4Paws, a grassroots animal rights/protection organization. Through change.org, we created a petition with the goal of having peace officers educated in animal handling techniques so that a Boomer situation doesn't happen again. I did tell her that the "world" is watching the outcome of this petition and the animal community is a strong, tightly-knit community. I also talked briefly about the other similar petition that is using the photo of the grieving family from TampaBay.com and the secretary said she did not see the photo or know about the gathering. "... a dozen people gathered at a deceased pet wall mural, on the side of the Gas Plant Antique Arcade building at 1246 Central Ave., where an artist painted Boomer;s likeness." (Oct 15, 2011)
      Hands4Paws is updating this petition and sending the link to the Mayor's office.

    16. Reached 1,500 signatures
    17. Owners of fatally shot dog want St. Petersburg police to change procedures

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      "Boomer was the seventh dog shot and killed by a St. Petersburg police officer this year."

    18. Reached 750 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Melissa Cougar SPRING HILL, FL
      • almost 3 years ago

      Boomer didn't deserve to die like this. I hate the officer for doing this. HOW MEAN!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Mike Hileman PALM HARBOR, FL
      • almost 3 years ago

      Boomer's death was avoidable. St. Pete police seem to have too many incidents like this. Pets are family members. How would they feel if someone shot their children? Discression must be used.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • R Ferguson TREMONT, IL
      • almost 3 years ago

      These sound more like thugs, not cops.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • N Towle SCITUATE, MA
      • almost 3 years ago

      This shows a total lack of successful training, understanding and rational thought especially in a profession where split second life/death decisions are made. Take the gun away from this newly graduated police academy graduate. Clearly, he is not ready. He may never be.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Nancy Towle SCITUATE, MA
      • almost 3 years ago

      Take the gun away from this new police academy graduate. He may have graduated but is not ready to operate solo and needs more training, or a desk job. You have to question his judgement in split second life decisions when he's shooting arthritic senior dogs.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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