SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — About 50 protesters gathered outside the Springfield Police Department Thursday afternoon in response to a recent shooting of a dog.
The crowd says this situation emphasizes the need for more officer training when it comes to dealing with animal control calls. They aren’t the only ones saying more education regarding situations with dogs like this is needed.
The National Canine Research Council created a series of training videos regarding situations like this week’s shooting of a pit bull by a Springfield police officer. It says that more than half of intentional police shootings nationwide involve animals, most often dogs.
“As human beings we’ve learned our entire lives to be extremely skilled at body language and communication with human beings, but not necessarily with members of another species,” said Janis Bradley, NCRC Director of Communications.
And while the NCRC couldn’t say whether these incidents have grown over time, they say the growing access to media attention definitely makes it more apparent.
“Very often people misinterpret dog behavior as aggressive, but it’s really social behaviors. It’s a problem in communities, so police need more information on how to respond,” Bradley said.
The Springfield Police Department says while it doesn’t have as specific training as seen in the videos, they are trained to some extent.
“Officers go through use of force training, which often applies to human beings, but really that’s a big picture thing. It’s the use of discretion,” said Chief Tim Doney, Springfield Police Department.
In this case, while SPD has an animal control unit, it was after hours, so it actually took multiple calls to get an officer to the scene. And police say the dog chased down several people, including a 12-year-old boy. They say a complete stranger saved him, by driving his car in between the dog and the boy so the boy could get in the car.
SPD believes the officer made what he felt was the best decision based on the circumstances he was presented with at the scene.
“This is unfortunate for the animal and for the family and for the owners of the animal. I understand they’re emotionally upset about this, because if it was my family, I would be too. But I also understand that if I was the victim that was chased by the dog or fearful that you’re going to be attacked, there’s probably an equally emotional reaction on the opposite end of the spectrum,” Doney said.
The Springfield Police Department says it also works very closely with its K-9 and animal control units to familiarize themselves with these types of situations.
As for the current condition of the dog. The vet who saw Kiki says the bullet didn’t appear to go into the brain cavity, and that it’s best in this case to leave the bullet alone and not have it surgically removed.