- Hawthorne Police Department
Stop Shooting Our Pets!
Max was only trying to be by his owner’s side. He was murdered for his loyalty.
Mr. Rosby was watching and taking video of the Hawthorne, Los Angeles SWAT team performing a raid, with his Rottweiler puppy safely on a leash. When the officers claimed that Rosby was obstructing them, the man returned Max to his parked car before continuing the conversation with them.
Without any further exchange, the officers suddenly handcuffed Mr. Rosby and began to take him into custody. Max, confused and worried about the owner, began to bark and escaped from the rear window of the car. The pet calmly approached the officers, tail wagging, happy to be by his owner’s side. When one officer attempted to grab the dog's leash, Max jumped up in the air.
Then, tragedy struck: the companion received the ultimate betrayal from the humans he trusted. The police officer shot Max at least four times. One bullet tore through his shoulder, and two more shattered his back legs. The third missed entirely. Mr. Rosby could only watch as his beloved pet lay slowly bleeding to death on the pavement, spasming in pain.
This tragedy did not have to happen. No dog has ever killed a police officer, but every year, thousands of family pets are killed by police who do not know how to interact with dogs they encounter while on the job. Most police departments, including Hawthorne, do not train their officers in dealing with dogs. This is inexcusable and must be corrected at once, before more innocent animals are killed at the hands of police.
In 2011, the federal Department of Justice had its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services distribute a free nationwide guide — “The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters”. Complete with illustrations of dog postures, this indispensable guide is designed to better inform police officers of the intricacies of human-canine relationships and dog behavior. It also dispels myths concerning dog aggression, bites and whether certain breeds are more likely to attack than others. Unfortunately, the guide remains unused as standard officer training among most police bureaus in the country.
If the Hawthorne police had read this guide during their training, Max might still be alive. We demand that the Hawthorne police department immediately institute a dog encounter training program for all current and incoming officers to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.
- Hawthorne Police Department
The recent shooting of a pet dog named Max by a Hawthorne police officer is a tragic reminder of the need for your department to train personnel in how to deal with domestic animals they will encounter while on the job. While there has never been a single reported case of a police officer being killed by a dog, thousands of family pets are killed every year at the hands of law enforcement officials who do not understand the animal’s body language. These deaths, including Max's, could have been easily prevented with a quick, inexpensive training program.
In 2011, the federal Department of Justice had its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services distribute a free nationwide guide — “The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters”. Complete with illustrations of dog postures, this indispensable guide is designed to better inform police officers of the intricacies of human-canine relationships and dog behavior. It also dispels myths concerning dog aggression, bites and whether certain breeds are more likely to attack than others. An excerpt of the guide reads:
“Dogs respond to us by communicating through their own body postures, facial expressions, and vocalizations. Without staring at [the dog's face], the officer should look at the entire dog, checking both for behaviors that show the dog is uncomfortable and feeling threatened and for behaviors that signal comfort and friendliness. An officer should look quickly at the whole dog to get an overall impression of the dog’s state of mind.”
If Hawthorne’s Police Department required every officer to read this guide, this tragic incident would have been prevented. I call on you to ensure that it never happens again by immediately instituting mandatory training in dog encounters for every current and future law enforcement official in the City of Hawthorne. The nation is watching.
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