WAN Exclusive With Gina Greisen, President Of Nevada Voters For Animals, About A Dog Shot By A Las Vegas Constable & The Critical Need For Police Canine Encounter Training
How many dogs have to die before something is done about what the Department of Justice refers to as an “epidemic” in the United States?
Tragically, another dog was shot last week by a law enforcement officer who had not been trained on how to properly handle a canine encounter, before unnecessarily reaching for his gun.
As per Gina Greisen, President of the non-profit, Nevada Voters For Animals, an estimated 25 to 30 dogs lose their lives during police canine encounters every day. The number of innocent lives lost is unfathomable, tragic, and, more often than not, unnecessary.
“This is the symptom of a much larger problem,” said Greisen who is currently in need of support to help pay for the injured dog’s medical expenses. The dog, named Arizona, was shot on Wednesday by a constable who deemed the animal “aggressive” despite accounts from witnesses stating the opposite. “There are almost always other less lethal options in cases such as this. While no video was captured during this incident, what we do know for certain, as confirmed this morning by an officer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, is that the constable did not have training.”
Arizona reportedly escaped through a hole in a backyard fence that the landlord had not fixed yet despite the renter’s request.
According to police, the constable was in the neighborhood to serve an eviction notice, which was not for the dog’s family, when he was approached by Arizona while getting out of his car.
An important part of canine encounter training emphasizes that officers should always first put something between them and the dog. If the constable feared for his life, why did he not get back in his car and close the door? Sadly, instead, he chose to shoot the dog who is beloved not only by his human family but by the community.
“People don’t grasp how huge this issue is,” Greisen told WAN, explaining that officers in these situations need to think past their momentary fear. “When you start firing bullets, you don’t know where they are going to go.”
There were two shots fired; the one which hit Arizona and the other which has yet to be found. Greisen explained that the shooting took place in front of two apartment buildings in a low-income neighborhood. The front bedrooms of the apartments, closest to where the shooting occurred, reportedly had seven children in one and four in the other.
“What if a child was killed,” questioned Greisen.
As difficult as that is to digest, innocent people are also killed by bullets that should have never been fired at animals in the first place. Horrifically, in 2015, a mother was “accidentally” shot to death in front of her toddler by a Burlington, Idaho, police officer. In June of this year, the heartbreaking case resulted in a two-million-dollar wrongful death settlement.
As per the Des Moines Register, the 34-year-old woman was fatally “shot by Officer Jesse Hill, who had been responding to a domestic disturbance call and said he had fired his gun in part to fend off an attacking dog.”
Unfathomably, according to the media outlet, Hill continues to work as an officer for the Burlington Police Department.
Greisen, who has authored numerous animal welfare bills including SB147, the Canine Encounter Bill, in 2015, which requires law enforcement agencies to adopt specific policies relating to certain training for peace officers concerning dog behavior, shared that Arizona’s case was especially disappointing after she and Nevada Voters For Animals had made significant progress over the years with Metro Police to address this problem; resulting in a decline of police dog shooting cases.
The Las Vegas Constable’s Office, which is primarily made up of retired police officers, is a separate unit.
In 2011, Greisen also authored Cooney’s Law which decided that animal cruelty cases could be prosecuted as a felony on the first offense if someone willfully and maliciously tortures or maims, mutilates or kills a cat, dog, or animal kept for companionship.
After talking with the vet yesterday afternoon, Greisen told WAN that Arizona started eating but is extremely anxious and seems to be crying for his family. Nevada Voters For Animals is raising money to help with Arizona’s medical expenses because the family is not able to pay for them.
Arizona is currently being cared for at Craig Road Animal Hospital which is located at 5051 W. Craig Road in Las Vegas, NV, 89130.
Donations can be made to Craig Road Animal Hospital by calling (702) 645-0331. Reference “Arizona” when calling.
Please also consider donating to Nevada Voters For Animals which works tirelessly to advocate for animals and lobby for animal-friendly laws in the state.
WAN will continue to report on this critical issue.