Shooting dogs as if it’s going out of style

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1999:

N . C .––Firing three shots into a pit bull/
Labrador mix named Disciple, as the dog
mauled Terrance Tate, 4, police officer
Edwin Rodrieguez on June 9 accidentally hit
Tarik Beach, 12, in the left leg with a richochetting
bullet fragment.
Tate’s mother, Christchelle Tate,
indicated to the Hackensack Record that
Beach was the real hero, was already restraining
Disciple before Rodrieguez fired, and that
the gunplay menaced both boys more than the
dog did. Disciple survived all three shots, but
was euthanized later by a veterinarian.
Almost simultaneously, in Mebane,
North Carolina, police sergeant Terance
Caldwell, 33, fired three shots at an alleged
pack of stray dogs. One shot hit Little League
outfielder Nathaniel Tilley, 11, in the calf.
Tilley, not seriously injured, was standing at
the Mebane Arts and Community Center baseball
diamond drinking fountain, a quarter of a
mile away.

If Caldwell of Mebane had paid
attention to North Carolina legal news, he
might have held his fire, as on June 1
Kimberly Larsen, Wendy Frye, and Gilbert
Wallace, all of High Point, North Carolina,
sued the animal control officers who killed
their dogs, in a potentially precedent-setting
case. The Larsen and Frye dogs were shot on
their own land in 1997. Wallace’s dog was
shot in January 1999 while allegedly trying to
return to his fenced yard after briefly escaping.
The lawsuit contends that the shootings
involved unreasonable use of force and
constituted an improper government taking of
property, without a warrant and without due
process. In addition to seeking more than
$10,000 in damages, Larsen, Frye, and
Wallace are reportedly asking the court to disarm
the High Point animal control department.
The Tilley and Beach shootings
were followed on June 26 by an incident in
which two guards employed by Lagarda
Security muzzled a stray pit bull with rope at
the Royal Mobile Home Park in Flint,
Michigan, after which one of the guards strangled
the dog with his bare hands. Neighbor
Jeff Wells photographed the guards in the act.
The dog’s owner, Tammie McArthur, had
posted numerous ads, taken out a newspaper
ad, and called humane societies, trying to
find him after he escaped from her yard about
24 hours before he was killed.
A similar incident in April 1995, in
which guards from the Los Angeles-area security
firm Westec shot a German shepherd
named Bud, cost that firm a $30,000 out-ofcourt
Spontaneous dog killings by police
have quadrupled since 1995, the Philadelphia
Daily News reported on May 4, affirming
ANIMAL PEOPLE findings published in
January/February 1999. Statistics on dog
killings by security guards are unavailable.
Once a routine part of animal control,
especially in rural areas, spontaneous dog
killings today are usually described as necessary
to protect human life. However, even
though life-threatening dog attacks and public
concern about them are also up, the courts and
public seem less and less inclined to accept
such claims without question.
The U.S. District Court for Northern
California on December 18, 1998 awarded
James Fuller Jr. and Sr., of Richmond,
California, $255,000 for civil rights violations
committed by two Richmond police officers
who shot their dog on September 3, 1991.
Just six weeks earlier, in November
1998, William Heinz lost his job as sheriff of
Windsor County, Vermont, in an election
hinging largely on how and why Heinz in
April 1998 shot a dog belonging to Scott
Jaynes and Annika Brown, of Peterborough,
New Hampshire. Heinz in May 1999 reportedly
settled a lawsuit brought by Jaynes and
Brown by agreeing to donate an unspecified
amount to a humane society, as well as reimbursing
Jaynes and Brown for their court costs
and the purchase price of the dog.

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