A man and woman in Florida are the latest people to be grieving the loss of a beloved dog and four-legged family member who was tragically shot and killed by a police officer.
Jennifer Sheerin and Howard Muhs are reportedly devastated after a Nassau County deputy fired three shots at the couple’s dogs during what turned out to be a false alarm. One of the shots fatally killed their dog, Lola.
According to Action News Jax, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said the dash-cam video shows the deputy did what he had to do to protect himself.
That is debatable since the footage also documented the deputies drawing their guns as they walked past the “beware of the dog” sign prominently posted on the fence.
Responding to a neighbor’s call that she thought she heard a burglar in their house, the two deputies were approaching the backyard when Lola, started running towards them.
Leeper contends that if the deputy did not shoot the dog, he would have been bitten.
That is questionable, especially since, according to Muhs, Lola “was probably coming out to lick him” and had no history of biting.
“That was my baby. That was my – we don’t have kids. That’s my kid,” Sheerin painfully explained. “He shot to kill. He didn’t give her a chance. I could’ve taken her to the vet if he’d have shot her elsewhere, or maced her, or stunned her.”
Sheerin is also concerned that Deputy David Lewis may have pulled the trigger because of a bite he received the day before from another dog.
When the reporter questioned Sheriff Leeper on how deputies decide whether to shoot he responded that if a dog is aggressive and coming toward an officer who feels that his or her life is in danger, then they absolutely need to take appropriate action and sometimes that means shooting the dog.
Not. Good. Enough.
As previously reported by WAN, a similar incident happened not long ago in California when a little boy’s pit bull named Eazy, was tragically shot and killed when police responded to the wrong house.
Much more needs to be done beginning with officers receiving specific training for instances such as this.
Recently, in California, AB 1199, the Police-Canine Encounters Protection Act, which would have required mandatory in-service canine encounter training to California peace officers, was disappointingly stalled in the Appropriations Committee due to staff’s concerns regarding costs of the program’s implementation.
Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian, 46th District, authored the bill which was sponsored by Social Compassion In Legislation (SCIL), a California animal advocacy group founded by Judie Mancuso.
The comprehensive training, which has already been successfully implemented by states such as Texas and Colorado, would have covered many areas including how to better understand the behavior and body language of dogs; tactical considerations and best practices during encounters involving dogs; safe and appropriate use of non-lethal force in handling dog encounters; and supplementary training two years after the original instruction.
WAN believes that the money for the training would have been well spent, and we are certain that families everywhere who call their dog a family member would agree.
“This is yet another tragic and avoidable example of the urgent need for police officers to get training in canine encounters,” said Simone Reyes, Vice President of the leading non-profit. “Social Compassion In Legislation remains dedicated to working with legislators and the police to mandate this training takes place here in California.”
Further, Mancuso and Reyes urge that other states look at AB 1199 and consider passing and incorporating it into their mandatory police officer training.
Tragically, it is estimated that every 98 minutes a dog is shot by law enforcement in the United States; which is devastating for both the family and for the police officer involved.
It does not have to be this way!
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