Dont shoot its just a hamster

First Posted: 6/14/2009

Imagine this scenario. You are approaching a house in which you do not know the occupants. As you walk up the sidewalk, a 1-year-old Dachshund that weighs about 12 pounds, comes at you growling. For those who do not know, a Dachshund is a wiener dog.
What is your response?
Would you get back in your car and honk the horn for the owner to emerge? Would you pull out your pepper spray and spray the dog? Or would you pull out your gun and shoot it?
The third option is the one chosen by a police officer near my hometown. He shot and killed a 12 pound dog for growling at him. I find this a little bit absurd. If it were a Doberman Pinscher with a spike collar or a rottweiler or a pit bull, I might be more inclined to understand this mans action. However, it was not.
I do not know the officer who did this and therefore do not know his physical condition. But I would tend to believe he could have easily gotten away from this dog or contained the situation in a better way.
This is not the first time an incident such as this has happened there. A few years ago, a Labrador Retriever was at a home when a police officer showed up. The dog ran towards the officer, tongue hanging out, tail wagging, and the officer shot the dog because she felt it was a threat. That dog was fortunate enough to live, but had to have its leg amputated.
The last time I encountered a dog with a wagging tail it just wanted to give me a good lick, not bite off my head.
I know that there are people who are not dog people, but I do feel that law enforcement officers should be trained to handled situations like this appropriately.
This officers immediate supervisor said that the man had a right to defend himself against a threat. I feel that a person coming at you with a weapon of some sort, be it a gun or a two-by-four, is more of a threat than a dog. However, there are not as many cases of people being shot by police officers for growling as there are of dogs.
The officer in question did not even show remorse for shooting this familys elderly dog. He refused to talk to the family at all, instead directing all inquiries to his supervisor.
These officers were supposed to receive training on how to deal with animals after the first incident. Clearly that training was either not enough or has not been enforced by anyone. The next thing we are going to hear about is a police officer shooting a hamster for rolling towards them in a ball because it may be seen as a threat.
OK, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. However, something needs to be done to train officers to deal with these types of situations.
Morgan Wall is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. She may be reached at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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