Dog shot while playing at a local dog park

On August 2 a husky mix named Bear-Bear was fatally shot by another dog owner who thought that Bear-Bear was being too aggressive with his German Shepherd. Witnesses reported that the man who shot Bear-Bear had entered the dog park with his dog on a leash, and when Bear-Bear ran over to check out the newcomer he called for Bear-Bear’s owner to call him off. Apparently they didn’t act fast enough and he pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear, who died a few hours later.

While the thought of someone shooting a dog at a dog park is shocking enough, it later came out that this man was an off duty federal police officer. That made it even worse to consider how easily this man was able to pull out his gun and shoot this dog, when witnesses say there wasn’t any real conflict.

I know that dogs are shot all the time. Bad people shoot dogs when they decide they don’t want them anymore, when they perform poorly in the fighting ring, or when they bite a human and someone decides to get revenge.

There are constantly stories in the news of examples of dogs being shot by policemen – it seems almost commonplace for police to shoot dogs because they get in the way of crime scenes or drug busts, or sometimes for no real apparent reason at all. (Example).

Is it possible that policemen need specific training on how to deal with dogs? Particularly how to recognize aggression? Bear-Bear’s shooter had a dog of his own but obviously didn’t know how to read Bear-Bear’s body language properly… and how could he be so trigger happy? I also noted that witnesses said he brought his dog in on a leash… well, common knowledge says that you *don’t* do this because it can make the leashed dog feel vulnerable in a new space… so clearly this man did not have too much dog sense about him.

Initially, it seemed like all he would receive was a slap on the wrist, but after a huge outcry from the public and overwhelming support from dog lovers across the country, an investigation was held and a few weeks later, charges were pressed against him. He was ultimately charged with animal cruelty and for firing a weapon within 100 yards of an occupied structure.

Whether Bear-Bear was playing or attacking the shooter’s dog is irrelevant in my opinion; you can’t bring a gun to a dog park and fire it unless people are in danger, whether you’re a policeman or not.

See Baltimore’s Unleashed blog for more updates and info.

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