Two Detroit police officers have killed more than 100 dogs over the the course of their careers, according to an exhaustive report by Reason.com, which pointed out that there are no requirements for police officers to report that they have shot and killed someone’s animal.
Information on so-called puppycide is not easy to come by, however, Reason’s website provides regularly updated information on the issue.
In January of this year, a group of Detroit cops executing a narcotics search shot and killed three dogs in the home of Nikita Smith. She has since filed a federal civil right lawsuit stating her dogs were shot without provocation after she told them she was putting them in the basement and one in the bathroom. One puppy was shot as it sat down beside Smith, according to the lawsuit.
As is often the case in a police shooting—whether of innocent dogs or unarmed individuals—the cops’ version of the story tends to be different.
In the case of Smith, extremely graphic photos show bullet holes riddling the outside of the bathroom door and the dead dog inside.
After shooting her dogs, the police arrested Smith for possession of marijuana and seized her car under civil forfeiture laws. Those charges were later dropped, when the officers failed to appear at her court date.
Another instance, Reason reported, occurred in January when Detroit officers shot and killed two of Joel Castro’s and Nicole Motyka’s three pit bulls while raiding a pot grow operation.
The officers said the dogs were “coming viciously” towards them. Motyka said the cops deliberately shot the dogs, including a puppy, while all three cowered in a corner of her kitchen, behind a wooden barrier.
Charges against Castro and Motyka were later dropped when it was found that Castro was a state-licensed medical marijuana caregiver and the 26 plants discovered by police were, in fact, legally owned.
Detroit residents say the police who shoot their dogs often just shrug it off, as if it were a common and unavoidable occurrence, which is leaving people angry and bitter.
Reason noted that if the Detroit police don’t reform policies that treat beloved pets like collateral damage in the War on Drugs, the shootings and lawsuits are guaranteed to continue.
“They don’t need to be dog trainers,” said Cynthia Bathurst, executive director of the animal welfare group Safe Humane.
“They just need to know what to look for and defuse or control the situation with the resources available,” Bathurst explained. “It’s the compassionate and right thing to do. And if that doesn’t move them, the huge lawsuits should.”
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