Imagine if your family pet was killed by a police officer? It happened to us. In May of 2012, our border collie Lily was killed on our front porch, right in front of us, by a Fort Worth police officer who came to the wrong address on a call and “shot the dog closest to him." We are still devastated by Lily’s death.
The reality is, we are not the only family who has lost a pet family member at the hands of untrained police officers:
Cisco, Mike Paxton's beloved Australian Cattle dog, was killed by an Austin police officer – at the wrong address in April of 2012;
Bucky, the Yandle family's Basset hound mix, was shot 5 times in front of the family, including their 3-year-old boy by an Arlington police officer in October of 2011; he was their autistic son’s therapy dog.
Johnny Cash, Sheyenne Knox's yellow Lab, was shot 6 times in July of 2012 on his own property by a Parker County sheriff deputy.
The list of horror stories goes on and on – not only in Texas, but across the country.
So many people have pets in their families, yet so few police officers know how to react when they encounter an animal and they resort to deadly force. It has to stop.
Ever since Lily was killed, we have been fighting for changes to make sure no one else has to go through what we are going through. Fortunately, Fort Worth Police Chief Halstead responded by taking positive action. The department will be implementing a change in policy/procedure and has already started a new training program.
We are happy that the Fort Worth PD is taking action, but more departments need to follow their lead across the state -- and the country. Every single law enforcement agency in Texas needs to train their officers so that these needless tragedies can be prevented. Fortunately, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) has the authority to mandate training for all officers in the State and the responsibility to ensure that Texans are served by highly trained law enforcement personnel.
So that’s why we are asking TCLEOSE to require mandatory on-site animal behavior/encounter training and continuing education training for all law/peace officers in the State of Texas. The agency should also use its influence to encourage departments to change the policies that allow the use of deadly force against our pet family members.
Texas has the opportunity to set a precedent for the rest of the country in how police departments protect citizens and their entire families -- including pets. For Lily and all the other pets who have been killed by untrained police officers, please join us in demanding change.
Remembering Lily A Reason For Change
This year alone, there have been horror stories from departments across Texas of pet family members being shot and killed on their own property by untrained police officers. We're asking the Commission to use its authority and responsibility to the citizens of Texas to make the changes necessary to prevent these tragedies.
After a dog named Lily was killed in front of her owners on May 26, 2012, Fort Worth Police Chief Halstead has been working to implement changes in his department to uphold the promise to protect and serve. There is no acceptable excuse for every single law enforcement agency in Texas not to implement similar changes.
We're asking the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education to:
(1) Require all law/peace officers in the State of Texas to have no less than 8 hours of mandatory on-site animal behavior/encounter training that utilizes animal contact and certification of training by each and every law/peace officer and required continuing education training.
(2) Support a change in department policies that allow the use of deadly force against our pet family members. Deadly force should never be allowed unless a person other than the officer can substantiate that a person or another animal is in a position of imminent serious bodily injury or death. Consequences for violation of this policy should be suspension without pay or termination.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education must and can mandate these changes – it has the authority. The Commission holds in its hands the safety of our pet family members. The Commission is charged with establishing and enforcing standards to ensure that Texans are served by highly trained law enforcement personnel. Ultimately, the trust of Texas citizens in law enforcement hired to protect and serve lies with the Commission.
This petition will be delivered at the next TCLEOSE meeting on December 6, and we're asking the Commissioners to meet with the victims and respond to these demands.