Screwtape Wept

My Dear Wormwood,

As discussed in my last letter, your patient's decision to join the police department seemed a mixed development at best. It is true that Hell follows no law save the most ancient, "Eat or be eaten." But as a general rule we want to discourage the creatures from obeying any laws, even of their own devising. Despite the best efforts of our most fiendish disputants, we in the Lowerarchy are unable, as yet, to remove from their laws all that reeks of the Enemy, such as justice, temperance, chastity, and respect for their fellow vermin. Still, we have made great strides in this age toward bending those who enforce the laws, such as your patient, to the commendable vices of cruelty, corruption, graft, influence-peddling, and the forsaking of oaths. So I did not discourage your patient's occupation, as long as he could be steered onto a path which would eventually bring him to Our Father's House.

Until I received this report from our colleague Skrimcheez, who is in charge of the local newspaper editor: Henrico police shoot pet as they notify family of son's homicide. As you can see, the report is lavishly illustrated, and spares no detail. It appears that your patient, while performing his mundane duty of notifying one of the humans that her child had been murdered, discharged his weapon into the child's dog. Your patient claimed to have done so out of fear (no doubt of your urging) that the animal posed a threat to the patient's safety. I have carefully read the report, and it raises several questions regarding your care of the patient.

The first of which is: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND? What kind of FUCKING LUNATIC would shoot the GOD-DAMNED FAMILY DOG as he was approaching the GOD-DAMNED FAMILY HOME to notify them that THEIR SON HAD BEEN MURDERED? YOU ASSHOLE! Hell is TOO GOOD for this son of a bitch! I thought I was cruel! I thought I was merciless, but YOU…

(Here the manuscript breaks off, and is resumed in another hand.)

In my rage and fury at reading of your despicable patient's exploits, I find that I have transformed into a vampire bat. My secretary shall compose the remainder of this letter under my dictation.

There are some things, Wormwood, that are too vile even for us. Admittedly, before today, I could not have named one of those things. But shooting the family dog, on the way to notifying the family that its son has been found murdered in the street, is such a thing. Hell has majesty, Wormwood. Even the foulest fiend in the most abysmal of our pits would not sink to such a depth.

Rest assured, Wormwood, that your patient has found his place in Our Father's House. Indeed he shall be most welcome here.  We shall make a sport of him, a plaything, a feast to be savoured slowly with all the cruelty our tormentors can devise. And yet, for all of the anguish that shall be his, for eternity and more, his torment will only barely exceed what he has brought upon this family. Common murderers are, as the Americans put it, a dime a dozen. It takes a special cruelty, one I would call beyond diabolical if there could be such a thing, to kill the family dog before notifying the family of a death.

Your disgusted uncle,


(Signed in his abysmal excellency's disability by his secretary, Toadpipe, B.S.M., D.T.)

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. DrBazUK says

    The treatment given to this sad story only emphasises the abhorrent nature of what happened.

    As a fan of Lewis, I applaud Patrick bringing this to light with a wider audience.

  2. says

    The fact that its a "pitbull" will make it all better in the eyes on the police report most likely. There's not enough information given in that news report to tell whether the dog actually was likely to be a threat or not.

    BUT, I've said it before: damn near every family dog out there has been "trained" to run toward the person who just entered the property to greet them. No, its not deliberate training, but stop and think about it.

    When you get home, whether in the house or in the yard, your dog runs up to greet you. Maybe you make him sit before you acknowledge him, maybe you don't, but either way you greet him back by telling him he's a good boy, and petting him. Most of your family and friends do the same thing.

    Presto, you just trained your dog in "aggressive behavior" that will get him shot by the cop who pulled into your drive with a wrong address….

  3. Bob says

    I dress up as a cop and pistol whip my dog. That way he runs when he sees cops. Seems to work. He mostly hides under the couch these days, safe from any wandering officers of the law.

  4. Brian says

    Awesome post! The Screwtape Letters is one of my favorite books of all time, and using it to tell this horrific story was very effective.

  5. nlp says

    A number of years ago I was amused to find that an officer of the law was afraid of a garter snake that had made its way into a neighbor's car. Since then I've been appalled at the number of police officers who are terrified of dogs.

  6. Dan Irving says

    I wonder if it was actually a 'pitbull'. I've read reports where the offending animal reported that a 'pitbull' charged and they felt threatened. Funny how it's always a Pitbull or Mastiff. Never a Corgi or Irish Setter. Why are they carrying tasers and pepper spray if they are only going to use them on humans?

  7. Grifter says

    I've read the Screwtape letters a few dozen times…reading this felt like I'd opened the book again.

  8. says

    Dan, it isn't always a 'pitbull', a while back a cop shot a Newfie in a similer situation (seriously, Newfies don't know what aggressive means), and even little 10-15lb dogs aren't immune to being shot for 'aggressive behavior' towards cops. Those piss me off the most I think. I can understand when large dogs coming running at you that you might be afraid, but the chances of that ankle biter being able to inflict life threatening damage in the first couple seconds is really small, give the owner a chance to corral their dog dammit.

  9. Eric R. says

    Excellent article. C. S. Lewis would be proud.

    While I think the officer acted in haste, my sympathy is lessened by the dog not being on a leash. If the dog had been leashed, it wouldn't have been able to come running from the back yard, Mr. Wormwood would not have received his uncle's latest letter, and Mr. Screwtape would still be a demon instead of a bat.

  10. Nicholas Weaver says

    Eric: If your dog is at your own house, why the fuck do you need to leash it to keep an asshole cop from shooting it!.

    Also, in terms of stopping a dog, pepper spray is probably a better choice anyway: less aim needed.

    Patrick: I always wanted to know what was too low even for Screwtape. Now I know.

  11. GeekChick says

    I always wonder if the propensity for cops to be terrified of dogs is not a certain amount of projection. The only dogs I know that are routinely trained to attack humans are police K-9s.

  12. Jess says

    It’s amazing that they train these officers to deal with dangerous human situations but neglect to train them on how to deal with animals. There are safe and effective ways to deal with charging or aggressive dogs. An ultrasonic device like Dazer will usually stop a charging dog in its tracks + pepper spray or mace would work.

    There is a website that tries to keep track of dog shootings

  13. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Anyone here remember "Screwtape proposes a toast"?. I forsee a rare vintage; this cop bottled with a rabid PETA activist.

  14. Connie says

    *slow clap* Brilliant. I would love a book written in such a fashion, of devils and demons remarking and commenting on news stories.

  15. kbiel says

    I'm sure that every dog shot by a police officer is a pitbull just like every time they seize someone's guns it's an arsenal (2 or more guns) containing automatic weapons all of which are either AK-15s or AR-47s (or a Glock if it's a pistol).

  16. Connie says

    Edit to above: Commenting on current news stories. Ahem.

    Also: Andy Serkiss is attached to the radio play as Screwtape? Awesome.

  17. C. S. P. Schofield says


    The Audiobook of Screwtape is read by John Cleese. It's awesome too.

  18. Sara says

    This is a bit ridiculously one sided, isn't it? A pitbull, without restraint and no owner to call it off is charging you. You have a gun. What exactly would you do in few seconds you have to react?

    I find it hard to believe that you would have stood passively while it attacked.

    This post is of course amusing, but to suggest that the police officer was acting in a deliberately evil manner that would offend hell itself is more than just a little bit inflammatory. It's a deliberate attempt to stir up the drama without consideration of both sides.

    It is a terrible thing to shoot the dog of victim as you telling his family about his homicide. I can't disagree.

    However, this is hardly a black and white situation and nothing reported suggests deliberate cruelty.

    We might suggest that the officer could have made a different choice in the heat of the moment – tried to scare of the dog with a warning shot, or only wounded it or if there was safe cover retreated to it.

    But again, living in that moment would be entirely different than being able to reframe it from a distance, without all the information available, and when you have time cooly make choices.

    You on the other hand, had plenty of time to make a cool choice to vilify this person without any reason except it would make an amusing post.

    I like you better when your topics have real villains.

    I like you better when seem to recognize the virtues of the religion you choose to follow, instead of walking straight into the traps Wormwood and Screwtape would have set for you.

    I state the above as a non-believer, so don't feel too convicted.

  19. Grifter says


    The police are given guns and both special training and, in practice, rights, with the expectation that they will make a cool choice, not a heat of the moment choice.

    The officer (as I understand it) was never actually attacked by the dog…as a regular citizen, if I had a gun I would be waiting until I was actually attacked before pulling a trigger, and I would expect a police officer to do the same or better.

    If this cop can't tell when lethal force is actually warranted on a damn dog, I shudder to think of his judgement on a person. "The sales lady was coming in my direction at the store, so I had to take her out"

  20. says

    Sara, according to the article there were owners present. It doesn't sound like there was time to stop the dog from running around the house before the office shot the dog. Further, I wouldn't make any attempt to coral a dog in that situation because the officer is likely to wind up shooting me by accident. And then get off with a slap on the wrist, no doubt.

    Also, and this is hilarious:

    "I like you better when seem to recognize the virtues of the religion you choose to follow, instead of walking straight into the traps Wormwood and Screwtape would have set for you. "

    You might want to pay attention to who a particular author is when critiquing their posts.

  21. Nicholas Weaver says

    Sara: Its also a matter of the police have pepper spray, which is a better tool for stopping a dog!. Pepper spray really does a number on a charging dog, without killing it, and is far safer for the officer as well, as much less aiming is required.

    If the dog is a real threat and you miss [1], you're screwed with a gun.

    But with pepper spray, just keep spraying and you will nail the pooch.

    [1] Its easy to miss, have you ever gone to the range? Can you hit a paper plate sized target at 10 yards? Now can you hit said target, when its attached to a dog charging at you at a full sprint?

  22. says

    Okay, yes the post was well written and all, but come on. First, a dog bite can be very dangerous given that a dog's mouth is not a particularly clean place. Dog bites are very likely to become infected and become a serious medical issue.

    Second, all kinds of people might walk up to a home's front door, the mailman, cops, the UPS guy, the Jehovah Witness people (okay, maybe it is okay to bite them). If you are going to keep a dog of any breed, especially one known for being aggressive, it is your responsibility to ensure it is restrained so it can't attack people coming up the front walk. (Okay, mom and dad just learned their son died, maybe it's excusable they didn't tie down the dog. But it isn't the cop's fault that the dog wasn't restrained).

    As for whether the dog was a pit bull, the reporter who did this story obviously talked to the family. If it wasn't a pit bull don't you think they would have said that?

    Okay, if I had been the cop, given the circumstances of my visit, I hope I would have had the guts to risk being bitten, or the sense to reach for a more appropriate weapon (taser, pepper spray, baton?) in the split second I had to decide what to do. But (speaking as someone who in his youth sometimes had to make decisions in a hurry), sometimes surprise and fear make you dumb.

  23. Sara says

    Grifter – That's entirely possible. But this post is not about the fact that an officer made a poor choice in the heat of the moment. This post suggests that this poor choice was something even Hell wouldn't do.
    To me, the post implies that the officer made a deliberately cruel choice. The original news story does not merit that assumption.

    Grandy – The officer was unable to see around the house. So – frankly it doesn't change my point. At all.

    Nicholas Weaver – You may be right. It doesn't change my point. This post is not about poor choices or poor training. It's deliberately implying that the act was heinously and deliberately cruel, rather than unintentionally so.

    Finally, if Patrick is not a believer, than I retract my last statement and replace it with a suggestion that he return to his usual good sense and decency.

  24. Kelly says

    *applauds* After seeing the kerfuffle about the dog in Ireland being put down simply because it "looked like" a pitbull and was no danger, these sorts of stories make me even angrier.

    @Sara: I had an English Lab and we didn't leash him in our yard, our fenced yard. Why would these people have basically pinned down their dog, on their own property? The police were clearly in the wrong here.

  25. Grifter says


    "This post is not about poor choices or poor training. It's deliberately implying that the act was heinously and deliberately cruel, rather than unintentionally so."

    While I am a firm believe in the "never ascribe to malice what can be ascribed to incompetence" line of thinking, at a certain point one is warranted in thinking that the incompetence would be so great as to stretch the bounds of that credulity.

    You see nothing that makes you say it must be cruelty, Patrick sees no other explanation that makes sense. Your only other scenario stretches the bounds of plausibility.

  26. Debra says

    Excellent writing! I haven't read Screwtape in about two decades but you've inspired me to dig it out again. Thank you.

  27. zaq.hack says

    Fantastic post. Look, police make mistakes. If I make a mistake on my job, I get fired. If a doctor makes a mistake, someone may die. If a policeman makes a mistake, it's possible for a LOT of people to die.

    This guy is not cut out to be a cop. It's okay. He needs a new job. Sometimes that happens to us in life. I'm sorry about the dog, but honestly, I'm glad it wasn't a kid with a toy gun. He cannot be allowed to be in a situation where he can make an even worse mistake under pressure.

    Note: The mistake is, as others have said, choosing a firearm instead of a non-lethal, potentially more-effective tool at his disposal. The chances of firing wildly at a charging animal are pretty huge. If the pooch leaps, a bullet could go through it into a person behind. It just isn't the right answer no matter how you slice it.

  28. V says

    Nice that the officer was trained well enough to get his gun out 'in time'. Some points for improvement:
    – I think actually firing the weapon should not be the automatic/first response
    – recognizing that dogs run up to people and are often satisfied by just sniffing you

  29. says

    Sara, you missed my point. "Charging" is a loaded term. I simply pointed out what the dog did – ran around from the back yard to the front – in a different way. Maybe the dog ran straight for one of the officers. Maybe it didn't. It doesn't matter.

    What matter is that dogs do things like this. All the time. Dogs of all shapes and sizes.

  30. Matt says

    I've read Screwtape Letters any number of times, you nailed it. What a terrible story.

  31. Sara says

    Explain how either explanation is more plausible than the other?

    Where is there any suggestion of malice on the part of this particular officer. Do you have some knowledge of the officer or of the situation beyond what was reported? If you don't have any evidence related to this particular incident, I suggest you place a huge amount of selective thinking and confirmation bias (based on your belief that the police abuse their station) on this report.

    By the way, I don't disagree that there are departments and individuals who show a very disturbing trend toward abuse. That does NOT mean that every ugly situation represents that abuse.

    The fact is that there is no proof that either Patrick or my version of the story is right or wrong. The only the report from the newspaper. Hearsay.

    However, as much as I like dogs, even pitbulls, I am a realist. As much as I cringed at the horror of the situation, I can't ignore the the immediate circumstances and the lack of any reported malice.

    I also would tend NOT to make this the ground on which I framed an argument that the police are abusing their positions. I prefer to choose my ground well. Without it, you have to defend the position of the circumstances rather than the bigger picture of police abuse.

    Not to mention that most of the police in this world are doing a good job in hard circumstances. And you just look like a dick when you attack the wrong situation. That makes the argument weak and your authority on future abuses is undermined.

    Taking cheap shots muddies the water and makes the real problem harder to solve.

  32. ShelbyC says

    There are many more CCW holders with guns than cops with guns. And yet, how often do you hear about CCW holders shooting dogs? Never. And how often do you hear about people getting killed by dogs? Almost never.

  33. Laura K says

    Sara I've tried to play devils advocate on your posts (no pun originally intended) but as someone who has lost both dogs and loved ones (not in the horrific sequence this family did, but unexpectedly and painfully) and dealt with Police stupidity on one of those occasions…no. I'm sorry, this is so inexcusable that Hell is too good for this man–and also too good for whoever suggested to him in training or advice that the course of action he took was at all a good idea.

    I've got to agree withe everyone who thinks the shooting of the dog is inexcusable and the timing of that shooting just takes it into the world of thermonuclear charbroiled douchebaggery. Not a competent police officer, not a man who should have a fire arm and oh THANK YOU Patrick for the Screwtape theme especially the Bat.

  34. Sara says

    Grandy – Yes it is a loaded term, but it was term used in the only evidence we were presented on this case. Do you have any reason to think that the dog was just running up to say "hi".
    I know dogs. And I can certainly tell the difference between a dog who is charging and a dog who isn't.
    Did the officer have the same knowledge of dogs? Who knows. We don't. Anymore than we know whether the dog was charging or just coming up to say hi.
    The officer made a choice. Possibly (even probably) a bad choice. But I don't see why we should assume it was a choice of deliberate malice any more than we should assume we have any real knowledge of the actual situation as it happened.
    My original comment was showing that there is another way to view this situation. The satirical assumption that it was an act worse than hell itself would perpetrate was a suggestion that it was done with malice.
    There is no proof that it was.

  35. says

    Sara, did you know that the Screwtape Letters were originally published in serial form in a Christian publication known as the Guardian? It's true.

    When the letters were first published, the story is told that an Anglican vicar from a rural parsonage wrote the Guardian to complain. His chief complaint was that the advice the letters offered was inappropriate for a Christian publication. In fact, he went on, much of it seemed positively diabolical.

    The Screwtape Letters are an allegory. This post, like the letters it apes in its clumsy way, is an allegory.

    If I were to extend the allegory further, to whom would I compare you?

  36. Sara says

    Laura K
    I'm sorry about your losses and horrific experiences. However, applying your previous experiences to this situation does not actually make a valid point. It merely suggests motivated thinking, rather than consideration of evidence and probable explanations.
    No one, least of all me, thinks this is less than a horrific event. My only point is that to paint it as malice rather than poor choices is not based on any evidence.
    Even to suggest poor choices is hard to justify because we really don't know the true circumstances.
    We don't know whether the officer tried to run, scare the dog, or how far away the dog was when officer actually shot him. We don't know if it was feasible to retreat to his car. We don't know if he has been trained to put down a dog that is charging.
    We just don't know.

  37. Pete says

    …and the bounds on police behaviour have been pushed so far beyond outrageous that none of it is, really, any longer.

    "Oh, that poor family. I hope they're alright."

  38. Laura K says

    Sara, very well, to depart from empathy (because what a great idea in discussing this man's failure to retain it)… my point about whatever congenital moron who trained or advised this officer and what they may have trained or advised him to do remains–as you say we don't know. Well and good. But the very fact that we don't know the circumstances–and that, you may agree, this officer did not know anything about property or dog before him dictates HIS responsibility and the responsibility of his department, trainers and advisers to give him better resources and for him to make better choices. choices have to be made when circumstances are murky and we need our law enforcement caapable of making more effective and safe decisions. Discharging a firearm on the grounds of a private home that might not hit a fast moving animal and MIGHT hit a bystander–as Nicholas rightly points out is so stupid that it is beyond poor choice; the man is a liability to himself, others and the saftey of the area he works in.

  39. Jess says

    "We don't know if he has been trained to put down a dog that is charging."

    And if he has, the police department needs a serious overhaul and the police officer does as well for not questioning that training. As I've stated from the beginning, if the department trains officers to deal with dangerous or unbalanced humans they should be training them on how to deal with dogs. There is simply no excuse for not doing so – especially since over 39% of households have a dog and there are over 78 million pet dogs in the USA.

  40. Luke says

    I was a runner all throughout high school and college. I cannot count the number of times an unrestrained strange dog would run towards me. Number of times I was attacked by any of these dogs: 0. But according to some I would have been fully justified in shooting every single one of them.

    Just because a dog is running toward you does not mean it is "charging" or "attacking". This "shoot first" mentality towards dogs is ridiculous.

  41. Sara says

    I am well aware of what the screwtape letters are. I'm afraid it's allegorical nature doesn't change my position.

    You are, of course, right about the Anglican Priest. You have as much right to publish what you choose on here as the Christian Publication had to publish what it liked. And you can think that your allegory is amusingly illustrating police brutality quite as well as the screwtape letters illustrated the pitfalls of tempation, sin and the machinations of demons.

    If you don't like criticism from "Anglican Priests", you have the privilege to remove my comments and point of view. It is your site.

    Or you could provide a rebuttal to my position on it's merits, instead of trying to discredit the writer by making me into an extension of your allegory. Not that I mind the caricature, it's just not a cogent argument.

  42. Luke says

    @Joe – careful, some cops are allergic to cats and may use force to eliminate the threat.

  43. Sara says

    Laura K
    Your points are in general very true. They do not refute my position that this was not an act of deliberate malice as implied by the post. In fact they tend to support it.

  44. Art says


    Who cares whether it was malice or whether it was a poor choice? In either case, officers of the law can and must be held to a higher standard, and in either case, this particular officer of the law completely failed in his obligations to protect and serve. If it was malice then that officer should not be serving the public. If it was a poor choice then that officer should not be serving the public. What exactly is it about this case that is hard for you to comprehend here?

  45. Laura K says

    Sara…the devil is in the details, which is why I continue to believe you're wrong.

    Joe…I hope you cat is well. Mine is pissed at me for the moment but I'll pet her anyway.

  46. says

    Why on earth would I remove your comments from this site Sara? Have you written something that would merit removal?

    Personally I find your comments quite amusing.

  47. htom says

    There's a tiny part of me that wants to think that the shooting officer feels as bad about this as I do, maybe even worse. The rest of me wants to find inventive ways to repeatedly torture him almost to the point of death. I will exercise self-control and content myself with this post.

  48. Sara says

    But still won't refute them or defend yourself against my allegation that your post was deliberately inflammatory without regard to the ambiguous nature of the situation?

    If you don't see anything wrong with inflammatory posts about ambiguous circumstances by someone who would like to curb the abuses of the police, I won't try to explain it again.

  49. singersdd says

    So now, not only does that poor family have to deal with the death of their child, but the unwarranted death of his dog, too. DAMN. Hell. All you need to do is watch a few episodes of Dog Whisperer to know how to handle being approached by a strange dog. My neighbors' uncontained pit bull (she really is a pit bull) is easily controlled when I stand my ground and tell her to "GO." She always does. She's easier to control than their Beagle.

    My Rottweiler is not leashed inside our yard. He shouldn't have to be; that's what the fence is for, along with the Beware of Dog sign on the gate.

  50. Leon says

    Wow, just…wow. In one post Ken's upset that the comments have recently turned ugly, and in the next Patrick injects cruelty and malice into a situation where none likely occurred.

    The simplest explanation is that a large dog charged an officer in public and was shot. If a large man had charged an officer and was shot we wouldn't be discussing it, but make it a sensitive issue like pets (or sexual harassment) and watch the page views skyrocket as people bicker.

    Stay classy, Popehat.

  51. says

    Sara, this post was deliberately written in an inflammatory fashion. That's jaw-droppingly obvious.

    What is it that I'm supposed to defend myself against?

  52. says

    Leon, if a large man without a weapon charged the officer and was shot, we'd question it quite a bit. That's what officers are issued Tasers and tear gas spray for.

  53. Luke says

    If a large man was running towards an officer during full daylight and the officer shot him we certainly would be discussing it! Next time I go running I'll have to make sure that if I see a police officer I come to a complete stop at least 100 yards away and grovel past them lest I be shot.

  54. says


    The simplest explanation is that a large dog charged an officer in public and was shot.

    That is a simple explanation. It is also incorrect. Did you read the link?

    The dog approached the officer in its owners' yard, on private property. The officer had not been invited onto the property. He had come, uninvited, to inform the family of a tragedy.

    Which he then compounded by shooting the dog.

  55. Laura K says

    Leon I am trying to avoid vitriol here but…wow. just…wow. Calvin may just unleash Stupendous Man on you for using his image if that's what you really think.

  56. Chris R. says

    It doesn't much matter what breed of dog. Arguing it was a pit bull doesn't mean anything. Pit bulls have one of the highest temperament ratings of any dog breed, which means they do not respond to stress violently. A large dog running at you is scary of course. Most dogs will not bite you in such a situation and according to the article the police officer was still on the person's property where I believe you dog is allowed to be off a leash. Really other options should have been pepper spray, taser, or good old fashion run and jump the fence.

  57. Gavin says

    Police have every right to be afraid of dog attacks. Police are regularly attacked by them. If this dog was violent (something we'll never know) then it absolutely should have been leashed or locked away to prevent it from getting to people passing by or visitors to their home (note the lack of fences around the house in the picture). I wish the officer had managed to use a tazer instead. What a traumatic blow to that poor family. This sounds like an awful neighborhood.

  58. Joe says

    Luke – well the cat – I should say cats – we have two -are not allowed to run loose we only allow them out in our fenced back yard which they cannot escape. 8 foot privacy fence with a keylocked gate on top of a 3 foot retaining wall. But if I see a cop univited or unannounced scaling the fence to my locked private backyard he/she will have bigger problems than cats or dogs.

    We did have a bull mastiff (he passed away about 4 months ago). He didn't so much as charge as "lumber slowly" towards someone. Mostly he just laid around like a big lump.

  59. Gavin says

    @Chris R.

    People have gone through a lot to give pitbulls a better name, but don't forget that there is a current habbit of not raising pitbulls like you would other dogs. Dog fighting is a bit more common than we think and pitbulls are right in the middle of it. If you raise a pitbull normally then they are wonderful and loving dogs, if you raise them to be killers they will be.

    Pit-bull type dogs are related in about a third of all human dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF). Them and Rottweilers account for around 67% of DBRFs which is pretty dispropotionate.

    But you are right, breed doesn't matter so much as raising. Considering the neighborhood (his brother got stabbed), I'm guessing this dog was for protection, not just a pet.

  60. Sara says

    Wow – I think most of us agree that shooting a man is several magnitudes more serious than shooting a dog. And warrants as much or more discussion than this incident.

    My point is that, in a sense, you framed the officer with this inflammatory post. You choose to skew the view point to show deliberate malice on the part of an individual, when it would have been far more effective in the fight against police abuse to look at the points so many people have made in trying rebutt my position.

    You ignored the fact that you really had no good evidence on the actual situation, nothing but reported hearsay, which did not actually imply police error, you extrapolated that his officer was guilty of deliberate cruelty.

    When you attacked the officer, without decent evidence and without consideration of what may have led to the officer's decision, you undermine the bigger issue. Finding solutions to eradicate police abuse.

    You choose poor ground for the battle, is all I'm saying. And your tactics, although amusing, were not strong enough to make a case for the police once again showing unnecessary force and lack of proper response.

    I assume that eradicating policing abuse is something you hope to contribute to. If it is not, then your inflammatory and misleading post is just deliberate maliciousness?

  61. InMD says

    I think part of the disconnect here may be certain posters treating this as an isolated incident, whereas regular readers of Popehat, the Agitator, etc., understand that it is anything but.

  62. Joe says

    Sara – well good Lord if we don't get people inflamed about an issue they won't get off their lazy asses and do anything about it. See – politics.

  63. Jim Hall says

    Nicely done. A+.

    Like others, it has been way too long since I read Screwtape. I wonder if I still have a copy.

  64. Gavin says


    I love the site and only regret not finding it sooner.

    Is it wrong for me to walk up to someone's front door and knock on it? There's no fence or warning sign from what I can see. How does them being on the family's property negate anything? It sounds like they have a hazzard on their property that wasn't constricted to their property.

    Also, from that picture the dog is only five feet from the sidewalk and facing it. I'm not so sure the officer was actually in their yard. Either way, this sounds like the dog was a danger to the neighborhood if it was actually attacking the officer (again, something I mentioned earlier that we aren't able to know but it doesn't sound like anyone disagrees with it).

  65. Luke says

    @Joe – I am sorry to hear about your bull mastiff, though it sounds like he had a great yard to lumber around in :)

    I have an olde english sheepdog who is a little over a year old. He doesn't run at people, he kind of hops towards them waiting for them to throw something for him to chase. Goofiest dog ever. 97 lbs with his summer cut and he thinks he is a lap dog.

  66. Joe says

    @Luke – well the landscaping is not taking quite the beating anymore. He weighed I think about 170 pounds and had an annoying habit of lying down in the wife’s flower garden. There was of course the story of the night we woke up to a terrible racket because he had trapped one of the cats in the litter box in an attempt to get to his cat turd treats. The kids miss him – the wife, not so much.

  67. Elegy says

    This is exactly why I get all crotchety and "stay off my lawn" when people come onto our property. I have a bluetick and he is VERY loud and intimidating if you don't like dogs; he is, however, gentle as a lamb and can't help the way he was made (I.e., bred to be easily heard and followed while hunting in rough terrain).

    Police have every right to be afraid of dog attacks. Police are regularly attacked by them.

    You got a citation for that suspiciously vague assertation? What percentage of the police force is attacked by dogs? How often are these "regular" attacks occurring? I highly doubt that police officers are "regularly attacked" by dogs – because dogs don't attack people as a matter of course. Otherwise, who would own a dog?

    (note the lack of fences around the house in the picture).
    I see a nice, medium sized chain link fence around the backyard, in good repair. And there is no reason to assert that the dog was somehow violent or should have been tied up – in the face of no evidence to the contrary, the dog seems adequately contained to me. One wonders how he got into the front yard…

    The bottom line for me is this – my dogs are members of my family. They have jobs to do as members of my family. And, as members of my family, my fenced in property is their turf, not yours. My dogs have every right to run up and challenge strangers who appear uninvited on my property – it is one of their jobs, and I expect them to do it. (Note I didn't say attack, but challenge)

    For a police officer to show up and shoot a dog that was simply doing its job and protecting its turf is friggin' criminal. At the very least, the family should receive a very large apology and a check for the monetary value of the dog that the nice police officer wantonly destroyed.

  68. C. S. P. Schofield says


    Take comfort; remember that Screwtape was originally serialized in a newspaper and an subscriber (who has to be the Champion of Not Getting It) wrote in to complain that he felt there was something diabolical about the letters.

  69. Leon says

    @Patrick: I did read the link, as well as checking out the picture where the dog was shot a few feet from the road in an unfenced yard. Should he have waited until he was already bitten to do anything? As someone who's been attacked by both a chow and pit at different times, I think he absolutely made the right decision. If they cared for the animal, it would have been fenced, inside or otherwise restrained (you know, to comply with those pesky leash laws).

    @Sara: I've never seen a post on Popehat vilifying an officer for shooting another human in this manner, yet people are shot fairly routinely while assaulting them. While I absolutely agree with you, my point stands.

    @singersdd: That's a great point, except there's no fence to be seen anywhere. The dog was running loose.

  70. Nibor says

    @Elegy Although I can find myself in your comment, the fence you see is on the neigbors lawn and as I can see not on lawn where the dog is.

    After reading the article, there is mentioning that at least one of the officers had (already) informed the family, and the dog only reacted when one off the household left the house in the back going, to sit on their porch crying, only then the dog goes to the front, so the officer was leaving the house or waiting for his colleague.
    He wasn't just entering the premises, as it looks like some of you are implying.

    I know it is just details and they don’t chance a lot off what is discussed here but hey I’m a sucker for details.

  71. Eric R. says

    @Nicholas Weaver: If your dog is at your own house, why the fuck do you need to leash it to keep an asshole cop from shooting it!.

    I think the answer is in your question: To keep an asshole cop from shooting it. We lived in a small subdivision, and we always kept our dogs on a leash or a lead in the yard to keep them safe. We didn't want them running out into the road or charging after people, so to keep our dogs from doing something unexpected and hurting themselves or others, we kept them leashed.

    Dogs (or any pet for that matter) can be well trained and very obedient. However, they still have a mind of their own and can react on instinct. Was the pitbull in the story trained? I don't know, and at this point it doesn't really matter. But if it had been tied up in the back yard, it would likely still be alive.

    If you disagree and think that your dog should be allowed to run loose, more power to ya, bro. I just think it's opening the possibility of more trouble than it's worth.

  72. Elegy says


    Ah! You are correct – I missed the police tape in the foreground, and that that the nice officer standing in the neighbors yard was standing inside the police tape. Well shiat, that photo helps explain the situation not at all. Nice job, Richmond Times Dispatch. And you are also correct when you say that this happened while the office was leaving.

    After my knee jerk OMG THEY SHOT THE DOG reaction, I'll admit I'm puzzled by this one now that I see I had my facts wrong. Damn you Nibor! :-)

    So @Gavin, sorry for the knee jerk reaction in your direction, but I'd still like to see some research to back up the "police officers are attacked by dogs all the time" assertation.

    I still think the officer overreacted here – pepper spray or a good swift kick to the slats would have stopped the dog. Shooting a dog that is simply running at you seems excessive, especially when it's on it's own turf. That's just what dogs do – 99.9% of the time they are not attacking you.

  73. V says

    I don't think the blog post ascribes malice to the officer; I believe that would require forethought. The blog post suggests malice on behalf of Wormwood and 'acting cruelly' on the officer.

  74. Jenny says

    In the picture, it looks like there is fencing around the house. The dog is lying dead OUTSIDE the fence. So it seems that the dog was either already outside the fence or jumped/escaped.

  75. David Schwartz says

    Leon: If a cop shot a person on their own property just because that person began running towards the officer, you would definitely read about it here. The reason you haven't read that story here is because no cop is quite that dumb. Apparently though, they are when it comes to dogs.

  76. Grifter says


    What cheap shot did I take?

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to say that this officer was either criminally negligent, or evil, and even that there's a decent likelihood of it being a combination of the two, in which case there would be malice, but also that negligence you keep asserting as more reasonable.

    While you keep trying to assert your position as more plausible without giving solid reasons why, I would point out that even if he's just negligent, that is also terrible. You can get to hypothetical hell just as swiftly by not caring enough to avoid being evil as you can by choosing to be evil (see: people who drunkenly drive on sidewalks).

    You don't use lethal force until you have damn good reason to believe that it's about to be used against you (or, obviously, someone else). If you don't wait for that, I don't care if it's because you're stupid or because you're evil, you've done a bad thing.

  77. Connie says

    My email is 'you killed the dog' in reference to a completely unrelated fictional incident, so this thread is vastly amusing and a little befuddling, especially given some of the reactions here.

  78. Chris R. says

    No matter how the property was set up, a running dog does not = an attack in progress. I am whole heartedly in the opinion that police officers should not choose "shoot first ask questions later" as their method of enforcing the law. I was under the impression that police are taught not to discharge their weapon unless absolutely necessary. I've seen rioting people throwing rocks at cops and not been shot, but a running do is totally more aggressive than actual violence.

  79. Joe says

    @Chris R. – "a running do_" I've never seen a running do but I do want to see what one looks like. I think your "G" key is sticking.

  80. says

    @Roscoe — Indeed, all types may walk up to a front door, and likely all types have walked up to that very same front door without feeling the need to kill the dog.

  81. Gavin says


    It not being an isolated incident doesn't really impact anything. I am disappointed in the police overall but that doesn't mean this particular officer did anything wrong. Dogs can kill. What other sort of motivation do you see them possibly having with killing that animal?


    I hear about dogs attacking police officers pretty often. I have a few officer friends and youtube seems to pull up a ton of results caught on camera. They're in a fairly dangerous position to be put in situations where a dog thinks they're defending their owner (despite the fact that their owner could be anything from innocent to a murderer). What the dog "thinks" doesn't make it any less dangerous.

    1.5% of Americans are bitten by dogs every year ( Police fill a similar role to mail carriers (2,851 get bitten every year) except post carriers don't typically have to show up while something is going wrong and animals would be likely more prone to attack when emotions are flaring. I apologize for not being able to find ready statistics about police officers specifically but apparently a search for police and dog turns up "police dogs" all over. Particularly a number of cases where the police dog does too much damage or harms the wrong person. I know that it is bad enough that training on how to respond to dogs attacking you is part of the course. Why would you particularly doubt that police get attacked by dogs often? If I was a dog I'd just love to chase after anyone running through the backyard trying to catch my owner who is clearly terrified. Moreso than someone just walking up to the house with some letters.

    I appreciate you clarifying the comment about the fence once you realized it wasn't theirs, however it being in the back yard doesn't help if the dog gets into the front yard. The owner said the dog ran from the back to the front which would have indicated that the fence wasn't functioning as such at the time had it been theirs. In all of this, ask yourself what if it had been a 9-year-old girl on a bike riding by ringing her bike bell? There is clearly a neglect of responsibility to their immediate community here if the animal is the kind that runs up to attack strangers.

    It is tragic to see an inherrently innocent animal get killed for doing what it's supposed to. This does not mean the police officer was in any less danger nor that the animal was any less dangerous. Would you have rathered the dog be able to maul and potentially kill the officer instead? Should the officer have waited until the jaws had actually latched? Dogs are dangerous, especially when not/badly trained or handled properly. They did not have control of this animal and it tried to attack the officer (again, note that no one disagreed with the officer's claim that it was going after him, they're just saying how much this situation sucks, and it does). Had that been a neighbor, what could they have done?

    It is the owners responsibility to their neighbors AND the dog itself to have it under control. In this situation it is the neighbor's fault for not controlling it. The police officer isn't to blame for being there since any passerby/girlscout with cookies could be there legally too (again though, the picture indicates that he was likely on the sidewalk unless he shot it point blank). This is awful, but I don't see why self defense should apply any less to situations where an animal attacks.

  82. Gavin says

    @Chris R,
    This was shooting in self defense. No one in the article claimed that the dog wasn't agressive or looking like it would attack. Would you have preferred that the dog latched on his arm first before the shot was fired? I'd personally prefer them use tasers in these situations but I don't know if he had enough time to think. I fully believe this officer was being attacked (otherwise someone would have said something) and that this article is just saying how awful the whole situation is. Losing two members of the family in one 24-hour period.

    @Robert White,
    These dogs are remarkable when trained and handled properly. Unfortunately these types of dogs are also trained to be guard dogs or even attack dogs in some households. If they are trained to be killers, they will be. This does not speak to the breed being bad, but it does speak about the owners.

  83. Chris R. says

    @Gavin, no one claimed the dog was aggressive.

    The pitbull ran from the backyard of the home toward at least one officer, who pulled his weapon and shot the dog in the home's front yard, according to Ellerbe's sister, Latoya.

    "They had told me my brother was dead and I'd come out back to cry on the porch and Tiger must have heard them. He ran into the front yard and the officer shot him," LaToya Ellerbe said.

    The police have not made comment, so we are left with only the statement that the dog was running towards the front yard, the author of the article paraphrased it as towards the officer not the witness. So we can debate this either way forever, but without clear knowledge of what happened it's unlikely anyone will give up their point of view. I still have a problem with an officer firing his weapon when he had other options and as his first result. Bullets unlike pepper spray or tasers do not stop within yards of their initial point of use.

  84. Sara says

    Sorry, I wasn't clear. The cheap shot was a reference to Patrick's post, not to your comments.

    I think if I only have the statements in the news report for evidence, than my position is more reasonable than not. However, as I stated before, the newsreport is not necessarily reliable. And my position would be subject to change if I got better evidence.

    However, as I have stated multiple times, we have no evidence that the officer did not believe a lethal force was coming at him.

    Perhaps I should clarify that I define malice to mean the intention to do evil or wrong. I don't consider negligence in training or ineptitude malice.

    The support of my position:
    "police officer shot and killed the Ellerbe family pitbull, Tiger, as it charged toward the officer off its leash."
    – Charged – implies the dog was running with aggression
    – Off the leash – there was no one controlling the dog
    "I'd come out back to cry on the porch and Tiger must have heard them. He ran into the front yard and the officer shot him," LaToya Ellerbe said."
    – Out Back – LaToya was Not visible from the front to the office, and it would therefore appear to the officer that no one was there to control the animal.

    The implication of this report (which again is the only evidence available) indicates that there was a plausibly high sense of danger from the officer's perspective.
    It also implies that it was an unexpected situation.
    It is therefore reasonable to assume that the officer was reacting out of fear and made a choice to defend himself rather than choosing to shoot the dog out of malice.

    Because these items are not presented in evidence, it is not reasonable to assume that:
    a. The officer would know the dog would come from behind the house running because there is nothing in the report to indicate any prior knowledge that a dog was in the backyard or even lived at the house.
    b. That the officer had any relationship with the victim's family before this incident. So where would the malice to them develop?
    c. That the officer had any negative experience with dogs generally, pit bulls generally or this dog in particular.

    It is therefore unwarranted to assume that malice was involved.

    Criminal negligence is possible, but again, that is extrapolating with out evidence. We don't know the terrain, we don't know whether his training tells him to shoot instead of using pepper spray, or whether he waited until it was clear that the dog was going to attack.

    Patrick's allegory seems to be about showing that the officer acted with evil intention. Or at least my interpretation of an act worse than hell can conceive would require evil intention. I don't think the evidence shows that to be true. It may be, but I would need evidence.

  85. says

    No one in the article claimed that the dog wasn't agressive or looking like it would attack. Would you have preferred that the dog latched on his arm first before the shot was fired?

    Actually, no one in the article claims that the dog acted aggressively or looked like he would attack. All the article says – and this is not even a quote from a witness – is that the poor dog "charged toward the officer." The article then makes very clear what it means with the word "charged": "ran from the backyard of the home toward at least one officer."

    So by the article's own terms, all we have is a dog running towards someone who happens to be armed with a gun. And guess what? That's what dogs do whenever someone steps on to their property, almost always in order to greet the new arrival. What evidence do you have that this dog, on this occasion, was doing anything different?

    This does not speak to the breed being bad, but it does speak about the owners.

    And what, pray tell, do you know about these owners that would give you the impression that they had trained this dog to attack humans rather than just greeting them as any other dog would do? Do you have some special knowledge about these particular owners that is not available to the rest of us? If so, please enlighten.

  86. says

    Sara, let me be a little more direct, since that's your style.

    This post, literally, states that shooting a family dog while notifying the family that its son has been murdered is an act so vile, so despicable, that Satan himself, and all his minions, would condemn it.

    Satan is the rebel archangel who, in Christian tradition, led a third of the host of God's angels in a misguided attempt to overthrow the Father of us all, Satan included, and was banished to Hell. Since that time, Satan has been associated, more than any being in the universe, with sin. Satan is not the author of all sin, but he is the abettor and, as ruler of the Hell to which those not redeemed from sin by the grace of Jesus's self-sacrifice are condemned, the beneficiary of all sin. Satan is the most evil being in existence.

    Now, a literal reading of this post would, as it has evidently for you, lead one to believe that I think Satan himself would be revolted by this act. But this post is not intended to be read literally. We assume, on behalf of our readers, a modicum of wit and perception. In writing this post, I assumed, incorrectly in your case, that readers would perceive that I was engaged in the rhetorical device known as hyperbole: exaggeration for effect.

    Do I consider this officer's actions vile, cowardly, needless, and heedless? Yes, for reasons which others have patiently attempted to explain to you. Did the officer's actions shock me? Indeed they did. But do I consider this officer's actions to be so low as to shock the prince of darkness himself? No, actually, I do not.

    It was comic exaggeration. Evidently you are so witless as to believe I meant it, or, and I'll be charitable (again) and assume this to be the case, you didn't find it funny.

    There's no accounting for taste. I am, with all consciousness of my limitations, rather proud of this post. I think it's the best thing I've written this year.

    And I don't apologize for that. I didn't write this to please you. I wrote it to please myself.

  87. Grifter says


    "Criminal negligence is possible, but again, that is extrapolating with out evidence."

    I will assert here that it is my opinion based solely on the evidence presented that I literally don't care what training he received. I feel his behavior was positively criminal. As I said earlier, officers receive training and rights not granted to the average citizen, they therefore should be expected to shoulder a higher level of responsibility than the average citizen, who is allowed to be in fear before a true threat has materialized.

    They are expected to, and trained to, defuse situations that a normal citizen would have the right to react to force with. As such, if his department is training him wrong, then they shoulder some blame on this, but he still carries the burden of having followed through on training that is highly improper.

    To use a hyperbolic example: I don't care if his training says to shoot black people on sight, if he does it he is wrong. The training is wrong too, but he is wrong.

    To use a real-world example: A very good friend of mine is an MP. He and his colleagues got into a standoff with a guy with a broken bottle. He was waving it around, but he never actually attacked anyone, though he advanced a few times and they drew on him (but didn't fire) and by their standards they weren't allowed to shoot him. They were reduced to waiting him out, using their words and their hands. And you know what? Took longer, probably looked silly, but nobody gut hurt! A cop dashing back to his squad car in a circumstance where he's not protecting public safety (he wasn't making an arrest or anything) is embarrassing, and silly, but doesn't result in a dead dog.

  88. htom says

    Maybe the officer should not have been left off leash? (That was a very poorly phrased sentence by the paper.)

    Really, it looks to me like the opening post (which is superb, btw) considers the shooting officer in much the same light as the officer considered the dog.

  89. AlphaCentauri says

    It's a shame you don't hear about the incidents where the cops don't react badly. A few years ago, a mentally ill man running naked down the main street in Philadelphia carrying a shotgun was apprehended by the police. He was put in the back of the squad car, then proceeded to break out the windows with his bare hands. Yet the cops subdued him without anyone getting hurt. They should have been held up as a model for cops everywhere, but it never made the news.

    As far as this case — postal carriers, utility line workers, social workers, all kinds of people have to approach houses where there may be dogs. They're trained to take it into account. If the cops were raiding and the dog was defending the person they were there to arrest, that's one thing, but if you have the choice of spraying the dog and running back to your car, reaching for a gun shows poor judgment.

  90. Myk says

    Wow. Just…wow. Glad I live several thousand miles from where this happened! However……. it occurs to me one aspect hasn't really been discussed, that potentially *partially* explains the situation (to me, at least).

    The cop had notified the family and was leaving. The family were, predictably, distraught. One family member leaves the house to go outside and cry. The dog sees/feels all the emotional distress and unhappiness, and rightly ascribes this to the presence of the cop.

    Instinct takes over, and the dog, blaming the cop for inflicting this unhappiness, challenges (I won't presume the dog did or didn't actually attack, as we don't have that knowledge) the cop – as a protective instinct – "You made my family unhappy, go away! Grrrrr…". (By way of explanation – try haveing a verbal argument on front of a dog; they pick up on the emotions as become distressed/agitated or even aggressive, depending on their relationship to the parties; if it's 'Mom' and 'dad' arguing, they're confused about who to protect; if its 'family' vs 'stranger', the decision is simple).

    The cop then makes a appallingly poor decision as a result of being challenged by a dog that is generalised as being unpredictable and dangerous.

    As much as I distrust cops for a number of extremely valid reasons arising from my own experiences, I think deliberate malice isn't a feature here, rather the application of Occam's razor. Regardless, the cop has shown himself to be unable to make rational decisions under stress, and on this alone I think he becomes a liability to the public safety and should seek another line of work.

  91. Waldo says

    @ Grifter

    I call BS on your suggestion that a single dog, even a very large one, pose any real danger of killing police officers. It just does not happen.

  92. says

    Patrick wrote: "Do I consider this officer's actions vile, cowardly, needless, and heedless? Yes, for reasons which others have patiently attempted to explain to you. Did the officer's actions shock me? Indeed they did. But do I consider this officer's actions to be so low as to shock the prince of darkness himself? No, actually, I do not."

    Oh, damn. I so completely misunderstood this post then.


  93. Sara says

    I am apparently witless.
    I am so sorry that I, and no one else here in the readership, would have misunderstood that you consider this officer the officer to acting in malice.
    I might also explain, and I'm not going to re-read my comments to see if I already did, that I understood it was hyperbolic.
    The point was not that I thought you believed he was as cruel as Satan. It was that the hyperbole implied malice. I'm not going to again explain why that hyperbole implied that to me.
    Apparently I'm the only one who saw that.
    I must admit, I'm still not sure how your pedantic and condescending explanation of the Satan myth is of any value to your explanation, but I'm sure that is part of my witlessness.

  94. says

    Well, at least I now have a definitive source to point out the next time someone asks me why people hate cops.

  95. Peachkins says

    @Grifter- Couldn't agree with you more. Police officers are supposed to be trained to be able to think rationally in stressful situations. It sounds like this guy just panicked. I would think that using your gun would be the last resort in any situation given the other tools you have at your disposal. There was absolutely no reason for this dog to have been shot and killed.

  96. says

    Wow…for a blog complaining about snarky comments, Patrick is taking the cake here in rude and condescending. I think you could take some lessons from Ken in how to respond to comments without belittling or escalating the situation.

    That said, any dog that is loose, and able to run all the way to the street is a dog that could be a danger. I don't care if poor "Fido" would never hurt a fly, that doesn't make him any less terrifying to those of us standing on the street. I've had this exact thing happen to me before with a German Shepard and it was horrifying. Reading the article, I completely sympathize with the officer and find it appalling that this blog has attempted to demonize him. Should he have maybe used a taser? Sure, but in the moment (and there is not much time between a dog running at you and a dog attacking you to make that call) he made a mistake. I don't think that makes him an evil or bad person.

    It is very sad for this family to have lost their son as well as their family pet in such shocking ways, essentially at the same time. But I hope that if they get a new pet, that they make sure it is restrained and unable to chase people in the front yard. That's a sure fire way to have some kid mauled for just being in front of the house.

  97. Jag says

    I can't believe people are actually defending the cops on this one. The contempt with which so many police hold the general public should scare the crap out of everyone.

    This particular story sickens and saddens me more than most.

  98. Stacia says

    The point, ktpick, which has been said so many times in this comment thread that it threatens to become belabored, is that a police officer is trained to make these sorts of decisions "in the moment" when there is not much time. A police officer, charged to enforce the laws and equipped with a gun, a stick, pepper spray, and the right to remove someone from their home and incarcerate them, should be held to a high standard of decision-making.

    And just in general, it makes very little sense to compare a police officer's behavior with the behavior of a layperson "standing on the street."

  99. Brandi says

    I have what I lovingly refer to as a herd living at my house. Included in that herd is a 45lb Husky and a mildly obese, borderline ancient, 14 yr old 20-ish lb doxie. If you come to my door both of these dogs are probably going rush the door because OMG THERE IS SOMEONE HERE TO SMEEEEEELLLLLLL and they might have FOOOOOOD. (Unless you are the pizza guy, in which case my doxie is certain you are an axe murder despite the food. I am SO safe from horror movie cliches, and oddly enough bad "adult films")

    Statistically speaking my doxie is about 539764967 million times more likely to bite you than my husky. Hell, my doxie is 34987439 million times more likely to bite you than a pit. He is more likely to bite you than any other breed. He is, however, short and cute so he's unlikely to be shot.

    On the other hand, my husky is somewhat large and has lots of teeth you can often see since apparently it's hard to let your tounge hang out with out a smile. You would die under a pile of excess husky hair before she attacked you. She would be shot 4387593475 times more often than my doxie if they were both "charging" (she'd also get there about an hour before but we will leave that out).

    There are a lot of factors that aren't accounted for in the article, so I will refrain from commenting on the threat the animal may or may not have posed. He could have been drooling and snarling, he could have been been really interested in whatever was on the officer's shoes. This may have been an area known for fighting or aggressive dogs. Who knows.

    What we do know is that unless this officer was equipped a la Barney Fife, he had other tools at his disposal to deal with any perceived threat. A bullet does not always take the life you intend. Especially given the circumstances of the visit to this particular family, the officer would have been wise to exercise ANY of these other options prior to using deadly force.

    Would this officer have reacted the same way if it were my statistically far more agressive doxie charging him? Granted, the pit is capable of inflicting greater damage in a shorter amount of time, but a doxie ravaged achillies is a potential career ender and I'm guessing it would royally fuck up your day as much as a bite to the arm.

    I guess the moral of my rambling post is judgements made on the "scary" factor are not a good basis for deadly force- be it huskys, pits and doxies; or people. ( I may have also wanted to brag about my herd)

  100. darius404 says

    I don't know why everyone keeps bringing up the idea of "malice", considering it's never once mentioned or even implied. If anything, the officer's actions are attributed to an unreasonable fear or precaution: <blockquoteYour patient claimed to have done so out of fear (no doubt of your urging) that the animal posed a threat to the patient's safety.

  101. darius404 says

    Your patient claimed to have done so out of fear (no doubt of your urging) that the animal posed a threat to the patient's safety.

  102. Personanongrata says

    Take a close look at the photo provided by the Times-Dispatch.

    Look where the mail box is located on the house (right next to the front door).

    How did the mail ever get delivered with such a vicious dog present?

    Tiger the dog was shot 10' inside his owners property.

    What if Tiger dogs owners had an invisible fence installed around their property?

    These are the depraved actions of a fraction of a human being.

  103. Kreshon says

    Great post. With the exception of the paragraph with the obscenity it has the feel of Mr. Lewis' original work. Bravo.

  104. AlphaCentauri says

    Ok, much as I love Patrick's original post … looking at more of the scene I'm less certain. Caveat: The Google maps street view is dated 2007; the overhead view is more recent and better resolution. They list the address as "2905 Creighton Rd Richmond Virginia" (Henrico Country, apparently). The news report lists it as Fairfield Ave. It looks like the road has a different name on the each side of the street, which is a country line road. Google lists 2905 as being next door to 2902, which seems unlikely. But other than the fact that the house two doors down has a new side door, it appears to be the correct location.

    If the dog in the photo from the news article is lying in their own front yard, there is no fence. The fenced house is next door. While the neighbors have their mailbox at the front door, the Ellerbe's have theirs at the street. They appear to be the first house outside the incorporated area, with the sidewalk ending next door.

    If you look at the photo in the news article, there is a tag near the dog and there is a second one closer to the camera. ("x" to close the caption overlay.) I am used to seeing those labeling the location of bullets, though I suppose they could be labeling any evidence. But it may be there were two bullets fired, one of them much closer to the street. On the other hand, that might mean the cop fired a second time after the dog turned and ran away, or that the dog was circling the cop as he was shooting. Hard to know.

    Given the amount of violence this family seems to have suffered, it's possible the cops were already very familiar with this particular dog from previous visits to the home. He may have attacked them in the past, he may have failed to respond to pepper spray, or he may have been a neighborhood nuisance/menace and everyone on the street was hoping for an excuse to relieve the neighborhood of a dog owned by irresponsible owners. It would be nice to know more.

  105. swearyanthony says

    Fantastic post Patrick. And I have to shake my head at the people hair-splitting over where the dog was, or wasn't. They turned up to notify the family of a death of a relative. And on the way out, shot the family pet rather than use pepper spray or other nonlethal means (assuming the dog was actually a threat, which has a pretty solid [citation needed]).

    That's the point. And Patrick's language was absolutely reasonable. Its a senseless and unnecessary event.

  106. dwbrant says

    Patrick, this took me right back to the CS Lewis book. Very effective writing, and the loss of control is perfect.

    Thanks for writing about this enraging thing.

  107. InMD says


    This not being an isolated incident does matter if one is concerned about the militarization of law enforcement and a culture that has accepted that the police shoot first and ask questions later, even under absurd circumstances such as this. Just because there are some very rare instances where police have to make difficult, split-second decisions doesn't mean they're entitled to deference for everything they do nor does it somehow relieve them of responsibility for their own actions. Here we have an agent of the state who entered the property of a citizen accused of no crime who then promptly killed the family pet for behaving the way most family pets do. It's shameful and entirely too common.

    Maybe I'd find it somehow more understandable, if even then not acceptable, if the police presented themselves as bed-wetting ninnies with hair triggers, as opposed to the brave, thin blue line that protects us all from anarchy. At least then when they panic over something as silly as a dog running towards a person entering its property we could all say, "Well, they did tell us that this is how they operate."

  108. Waldo says

    Agree with InMD with respect to this not being an isolated instance and it reflecting on law enforcement culture in the US. Why is it that there is story after story of police shooting dogs, but I never hear a story about a mailman or social worker or ordinary citizen shooting a dog? Police interaction with strange dogs have to be hundreds or even thousands of times less frequent everyone else's interactions with strange dogs, yet I've seen dozens of stories of police shooting dogs but hardly ever see a story of non-police shooting dogs. Why do cops kill dogs and everyone else manages to survive without killing them? That tells me that there's something wrong about the way these dog-killing cops are doing their job. If anything, it should be the opposite because cops are supposed to be trained to protect and serve the community and it's part of their job to accept risks that we don't ask ordinary citizens to take. Instead, the cops come off as panicky, trigger-happy Barney Fifes with no regard for beloved family pets.

  109. darius404 says

    Instead, the cops come off as panicky, trigger-happy Barney Fifes with no regard for beloved family pets.

    My only thoughts on this are that Barney Fife would never shoot a dog like that, because his only bullet is in his pocket, and that it does a great disservice to Deputy Fife to assume he would shoot a dog if the bullet was in his gun (though I know you didn't really mean that). The point of your post is well-made, however.

  110. Gal says

    @Myk: I considered the possibility that the dog reacted to the distress the policemen brought with them, but I don't think it holds water. The shooter was leaving the house, and there was still a second cop in there. LaToya Ellerbe went out to the back yard with the victim after the second cop told them of the death, So Tiger was there when the bomb dropped and presumably didn't act aggressively or he'd have been restrained.

    It's not impossible that he had a delayed violent reaction, but I think it's unlikely.

    bottom line, I think the shooter's judgement was appalling. I also think that if you have a dog, especially a large one, you should also have a fence. Or at the very least a running leash.

    The fact that they had neither, on the other hand, suggests that speculations as to the dog's nature can be put to rest. If the dog had exhibited aggressive tendencies before then it would not have been allowed to run loose and unmuzzled in an unfenced yard.

  111. Gavin says


    Just as no one said that the dog was being particularly aggressive, no one said it wasn't. That's something the owner likely would have said if the dog was just a pet (and not also protection). But we can't know that.

    You guys clearly seem to care about animals and that's great. The thing is, people like us raise them well and train them properly. We don't train them to attack strangers or if we do, we train them even more carefully to only do so at our order and never without it. Any animal I've ever had has been a pet that was just there to play with and be loved. What you don't see is animals that have been ill-trained and mistreated as happens so very often in poorer areas (correct me if I'm wrong about this place, a neighborhood where two sons have been murdered doesn't sound like a gated community), especially where dog fighting is happening though there's no reason to necessarily suspect this area. I had neighbors once that did that. Their dogs got into my yard and killed our dog without a fight. Some dogs are ruined by their owners and it's all the owners fault, but the animals are still dangerous.

    Dogs are the responsibility of the owner. This could have been a loveable dog just running up to sniff the officer, but I wasn't there, I don't know what the dog was doing. It could have been viciously snarling and could have bit at the officer just before a shot was fired, we don't know and it's poor journalism to leave so much information out of it. I can tell you that the officer was close to the sidewalk by the time the gun was fired.


    It sounds like there is far too little information for us to really make such a bold statement that some happy dog trotted up to the officer and he just popped him one. Likewise, if this dog was violent, it was a danger to the society as the owners clearly didn't have control over the animal and something like this may have been waiting to happen (but at the cost of an individual without a means of defense).

    If the officer just saw a dog running at him and shot the dog just "in case", then yeah, that was pretty dumb. If the dog appeared to be posing a threat (keep in mind, dogs are a real threat), then he was merely protecting himself even if the dog was just doing what he was taught to do. Officers do a lot of dumb things all over, that doesn't mean that this couldn't have been an innocent scenario where a dog was acting overly violent and the officer felt threatened. I think the officer is most to blame for using a gun and not a taser. Shame on him for using lethal force when it did not demand it. I cannot blame him for defending himself, but I can blame him for doing that.

    At the end of the day, I expect a human being to defend themselves against an animal or another human any way they can. There is little difference between a violent dog running at you and a man with a knife except that the man knows that he's not supposed to be attacking a police office but the dog doesn't. Neither are any less dangerous. Still, my last time repeating this, in a world where tasers exist we should see them used in events like this every time where possible. Only a gun should really warrant another gun.

  112. Gavin says


    Non-police don't exactly walk around with a gun at the ready for a quick-draw like police do nor are they specifically trained for events like this. I have heard of plenty of people of all areas killing dogs once attacked, but perhaps that's just because I live in the south where there's a sort of epidemic of dogs being raised to be violent.

  113. Gal says

    @Gavin: You're being dis disingenuous by presenting the picture as either being a happily trotting dog or a vicious killer going for the jugular.
    I occasionally go out jogging of an evening. when I do, I usually get a dog or two coming at me when go past their yard, and occasionally I get dogs who aren't kept in a closed yard. And yes, it can be quite frightening, but I've never had to resort to shooting a dog while out jogging, nor tazing, nor spraying with pepper spray. All I've ever had to do is face the dog and walk away slowly.

    The cop was, if nothing else, incompetent. Lets get that straight.

  114. Ben says


    While I think that most people would concur that this is a terrible outcome to an already terrible situation, I do not think we can definitively conclude whether or not we can assign fault to the officer, the officer's training or the mentality of law enforcement.

    There are criterion by which an aggressive dog might be assessed by professionals, even in a 'snap decision' moment, to determine a likelihood of biting. I do not know of how accurate these metrics are but I do know that the paid staff at our human society make snap judgements at the intake of an animal as to whether volunteers can work with the animal, or whether it needs further 'aggression testing'. I had to sign a waiver for my ability to sue them if I got bit, but I have yet to have a dog that they send straight into the cleaning area bite me.

    So I think it seems reasonable, extending them the benefit of the doubt in absence of other evidence, that they would likely have similar (or possibly even more accurate) training to identify animal aggression, and the officer might thus have assessed his risk of being attacked, the risk of that attack doing serious harm, and acted based upon that.

  115. Gavin says


    Wait, this police department in particular has a history of being gun happy or is that just one good example (how did they respond to that atrocity)? Look, I know that police have a lot of bad stuff going on, somewhere they stopped just being around to serve and protect but that doesn't mean they're all bad. Sure, they're literally given a fiduciary conflict when allowed to issue tickets/fines that go on to pay their pensions and such. I'm still an idealist, I guess, but I believe that everyone is innocent until proven otherwise, even officers. Of course, I guess that's a joke around most people.


    I've been attacked by large dogs twice in my life, nearly killed once (I was really young when attacked by a Saint Bernard of all dogs) and just hurt by the next. Don't know why I don't have any visible scars anymore. With both dogs the neighbors had just lost track of them. I fail to see how your life experiences somehow trump others. Around 1,008 Americans are sent to hospital emergency departments by dog bites every single day and those are just the ones reported (I did not report the second attack on me, the Saint Bernard attack required hospital care). It is highly unlikely that the 4.5 MILLION Americans being bit every year are just doing dumb things (the 1,000 per day number are just the ones being sent to emergency rooms, the number of bites are much higher). I'd easily believe that many are behaving inappropriately but even mail carriers who are also taught on responding to animals get regularly bitten (around 3,000 per year) and people don't react irately when they're around like they do to police. The first dog got me when it ran up to me and I tried to reach my hand forward to pet it after it'd sniffed and seemingly accepted my hand. The second dog attack got me on my back. I didn't even know the dog was behind me.

    I repeat that it is the owner's responsibility to the dogs and their neighbors to keep the dogs on their property. They ARE a liability and can/do kill. This was a failure on both the neighbor and the police officer's part. Depending on the dogs actual intentions (who knows, run up and sniff was all it wanted for all we know) the officer may have been acting appropriately except in the use of lethal force. It was probably trained to guard though and was being aggressive in response to seeing its masters heightened state of emotion. It doing what it is trained to do doesn't make it any less dangerous.

    This is all horribly compounded by the practice of dog fighting, the most evil practice of all regarding dogs. The dogs that got into our yard and killed my dog were breeding dogs for dog fights (a fact we did not learn until we reported the incident and the neighbor's house was examined). I love dogs, but I don't trust their owners. Especially not owners of fighting breeds.

  116. Gavin says

    @Chris R,

    I didn't see your no tasers/shooting mentally ill post. That's pretty bad. This police department isn't properly set up. Tasers are necessary to minimize the number of casualties resulting from the enforcement of the law. It is literally investing in life. There is no excuse.

  117. Chris R. says

    @Gavin, no worries. I used to think the police only used deadly force when absolutely necessary. However then I've seen reports of cops shooting a unarmed fleeing subject in the back etc. I am now more cautious in supporting the discharge of police weapons, especially when imminent threat isn't established (which could be the reporter being sensational or just lazy). I try to think what I would do if I had a gun and was put in that situation. I would be reluctant to take a life just because I was scared. Everyone gets scared, it's normal, people don't always respond with deadly force though. I'm with Patrick though, you don't shoot the dog of the family you just told their loved one was murdered.

  118. Ben says

    Chris R,

    As a general rule I think that's probably agreeable. I have an uncle whose career was as a police officer in a small town in Iowa. Well, I do not really know whether it was small. Seemed small by 'urban' standards.

    Anyways, he was retired in the nineties but when my brother asked if he'd ever shot anyone, he responded that he'd only ever had to draw his gun once in his entire career (and no, he did not have to shoot the person) but that if you ever were in danger, you could not hesitate – but you had to be 'damn sure' (his words) you were right, because while the other person might be dead, you would have to live with that decision for the rest of your life.

    This is purely anecdotal, of course. There may be different factors and forces in the training of modern police or he may have been a statistical outlier, et cetera.

    But it would seem to me that, unless the police have begun a new "Sociopath Only" hiring policy, the individual officers involved did not enter a situation hoping to kill someone – they either made a poor decision or felt they had no alternative.

  119. Grifter says


    I'm sorry for your experiences with dogs, but while dog bites send 4.5 million to the hospital, it has been my experience that the bites are overwhelmingly "person doing something stupid" (and often children doing something dumb, whether it's dumb in relation to dogs in general, or just dumb and mean). This is not to contradict your experience. It is worth bearing in mind that in the U.S. less than 2 dozen people die a year from these attacks. It's about on par with vending machine deaths.

  120. Chris R. says

    @Ben, I am not saying police are sociopaths or try to hire sociopaths. What I am saying is that too frequently they aren't trained properly to deal with certain stressful situations. You mentioned earlier that police must have dog training, but according to the humane society very few police departments offer training on how to deal with dogs.

    Given how often police officers encounter pets, one would think training for handling dogs would be common. An officer untrained in recognizing a dog's body language, for example, could easily mistake a bounding dog from a charging one, a nervous dog from an angry one, or an aggressive dog from one that's merely territorial. Groups like the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offer free training to police departments, but both organizations said few departments take them up on the offer. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle are among departments that don't provide regular training to officers on how to respond to dogs.

  121. Ben says

    Aw. :(

    Ava reminds me of my German Shepherd. If the Humane Society provides free training, that seems like a general 'win-win-win' for all involved. I will have to investigate further.

  122. Ben says

    Forty minutes and I could not locate any reputable, independent statistics about training of officers with regards to animal aggression. The ASPCA has a "Policy Position Statement" which contains;

    "Police rarely receive any training that would allow them to rapidly and realistically assess the degree of danger posed by a dog; nor are they routinely informed about or trained to use any of the wide variety of non-lethal tools and techniques available to them as alternatives to shooting."

    But no specific citations are made. It overlapped with civil recovery. It seems worth noting that, in the eyes of the law, a dog is apparently just property – property to which we may be emotionally attached -but property nonetheless.

    I also wanted to find some hard data, to see if States with large agricultural-industrial complexes had more of these sorts of shootings than other States. People involved in agriculture seem more likely to identify non-human animals as products, objects or tools than as living entities, comparable (in various ways) to ourselves.

    Russell, III et al v City of Chicago et al was apparently one of the 'largest civil awards' for the 'deprivation of property' of a single companion animal. Yet it seems that, tacitly, the law is set up to say that it is a thing – like a door or a chair or a car – and if the police damage that thing wrongfully, they have to pay for that thing.

    I would imagine that if police cause unnecessary damage to a door while entering someone's house, they would need to compensate them for the door.

    So the fault now, to me, seems not to lie with the peace officer or the officer's training – but with the law itself. Animal cruelty laws, to me, seemed to be rooted in the notion that animals can experiencing suffering comparable to our own and that, as the intellectually or technologically superior species, we had a duty to alleviate as much of that suffering as possible.

    But if you reduce them to tools with price tags, it would seem that sense of empathy evaporates. Yet, I can't really offer a reasonable alternative to our current law; as much as I love my dog, I still do not value her life as much as that of a human being, and if I had to pick one to the exclusion of the other, I would chose the human.

  123. Gal says

    @Ben: I don't think anyone disputes the value of a human life compared to that of a dog, the problem exists with cases like this one, and most other similar incidents, in which the killing was almost certainly unnecessary. There's no reason why police departments should be allowed to be so cavalier with the lives of domestic animals. None.

    It's true that we don't have enough detail in that article whether the officer truly was in danger, or whether he had the training to recognize that his only recourse was lethal force, but statistically, and from the lack of any violent history attributed to the dog, we know it was highly unlikely.

    Lethal force should not be the first option for an officer of the peace in all but the most extreme situations, but it seems like for many officers it is when it comes to dogs. This is not an isolated incident, as several people have pointed out before.

  124. Gavin says


    Actually, it's around 3 dozen now and just because it doesn't kill you doesn't mean it can't horribly maim. I got lucky, I've had friends who weren't so lucky. A pit bull got my 2-year old niece in the face up in Seattle just a couple months ago. The owners of the dog tried to convince my sister-in-law that it was just a scratch by putting a band-aid over the gaping wound. An hour later she was in the hospital and stayed there for over a week with a tremendous fever, almost becoming another statistic. Even though the mom knows the dog wasn't provoked (she was watching at the time), they told the police that it was so that the dog wouldn't be put down. The girl will likely carry a scar on her face for the rest of her life. She was only a small bit away from losing an eye (the teeth actually punctured the lower eyelid and she had to get stitches or whatever on both sides).

    This is a link to the bios of the people who have already died this year so far:
    There's a 2-day old infant on that list. I wonder what it could possibly have done and by a husky no less. The husky had killed the family cat before this incident. But they also owned several pit bulls and the entire situation is questionable. The fact is, when you see a pit bull running at you, you have no idea what the owners have put it through. Look at the picture, the dog and the bullet shell are three feet away and they're five feet from the sidewalk. The officer could literally have been standing on the sidewalk when firing. I'll say this, the officer waited until the dog got within striking distance and may have fired only after being attacked. We don't know the truth because this dumb reported didn't ask any questions and the police isn't talking.

    Last year 31 people were killed. 71% of the deaths were by pit bulls even though they make up less than 5% of the population. Rottweilers come in at second place. But a pit bull-related fatality occurs about ever 20 days whereas a Rottweiler fatality occurs about every 88 days (significant difference). The difference in my opinion is that Rottweilers are often trained for defending an area and do kill in the line of duty whereas pit bulls are regularly being trained to kill.

    Keep in mind, even though I place almost all the fault with the owners, different dogs within the same species can have a different demeanor just like humans. It doesn't just come down to training when individual personality is involved. Sometimes you just get a mean one. Some will be more dangerous than others and it'd be naive not to admit that (not that I'm saying you wouldn't agree with that point, I'm just talking in general).

    Even if this particular dog was vicious though, the officer should have had a taser and the family should have prevented the dog from being able to get to visitors and passersby.


    Yeah, it's pretty hard to find police statistics that involve their interactions with dogs. Either they don't exist or articles/statistics involving just police dogs themselves are much more popular.

  125. darius404 says

    the family should have prevented the dog from being able to get to visitors and passersby.

    This is completely unreasonable. The only way to do so would be to have the dog chained or leashed up 24/7, which almost no one would agree is a reasonable thing to do. On the contrary, that would be cruel. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a dog approaching strangers in its own yard. The dog's owners are not at fault whatsoever for the dog being shot, and to say that they are at fault for the dog approaching a stranger in the yard is to imply there is something wrong with the dog doing so, which is ridiculous. Dogs approach people. Deal with it. Obviously the cop didn't do that, and instead shot the dog. As it is, Gavin seems to have an unreasonable fear of dogs, so he's unlikely to be swayed by any arguments.

  126. Jen says

    Referring to for dog bite statistics is a bit like asking Stormfront for statistics on crimes by minorities. If you'd like to see rational, well-researched information on dog bites, try Although I may not be trustworthy, per Gavin, as I have a number of pit bulls snoring around me. Though the only thing the seem to fight for is couch space.

  127. Joe Pullen says

    I’m going to make one added comment on this post given some perspective of a close family member who is a police officer. This was a result of panic and poor training. I say this because irrespective if the dog was charging or not, and irrespective if the dog was on its own property or not, discharging a firearm is a very serious matter. Too often bullets do not hit the intended target and most especially when fired in a panic situation. An officer should never pull their gun or fire it unless absolutely necessary, they have properly assessed the situation, and they are confident they will not hit some innocent bystander. There are a lot of police officers that lack the temperament for their position and there are even more that are not properly trained to deal with dogs and high stress situations. An officer has a duty and obligation not to respond to provocation and that includes snarling and barking dogs, drunks calling them names, someone flipping them off, etc. Too often they fail.

    I have a CC permit and have spent a fair amount of time learning how to properly handle a firearm including target shooting. Even after years of practice I count myself lucky to hit a small stationary target even with a laser sight on the pistol. The range also has moving targets and I can tell you personally it is very difficult to hit a small fast moving target. You can imagine how much more impossible it is in a surprise or panic situation when one’s adrenaline is pumping. Pepper spray is actually far more effective in dealing with animal since is has a wider spread.

    While one could certainly argue the owner should have had control of their animal, ultimately the use of deadly force was a decision made by the officer. Despite the lack of detailed information on this incident it seems clear that one conclusion can be accurately drawn – the police officer lacked the necessary training to deal with the situation. Given the number of dogs being shot by police it appears this is a rampant problem among many police departments and given the number of households with pets, it is something that should be rectified before an even more serious accident occurs. An accident where a stray bullet hits a human.

  128. Chris R. says

    @Joe, people have been shot when cops shot at dogs. In my above linked article:

    During a 2007 raid in Stockton, Calif., a police officer inadvertently wounded Kari Bailey, 23, and her 5-year-old daughter Hailey while trying to kill the family dog. (The police had shown up at the wrong address.) Last month, one officer firing at pit bulls in Minneapolis accidentally shot a fellow cop.

    They even shot each other… This is why cops should not respond with bullets when they merely feel threatened.

  129. Chris R. says

    I am not trying to paint cops as dog killers here, what I am saying is that there isn't established policies on when a dog is actual threatening nor is there training to deal with supposedly threatening dogs. These policies and training would not only save dog lives but human lives as well. Like Joe has said, pepper spray is more efficient, less deadly, and almost certain to not cost lives. Pepper spray has an effective range of mere yards versus a bullet that if it doesn't strike it's intended target travels much further with much deadlier consequences.

  130. Ben says


    Thanks for the link to the National Canine Research Council! They have some interesting, well sourced articles. I could not find strictly Canine to Law Enforcement Officer statistics through any of them, but reference 16 links to a CDC epidemiological study on dog bites. :(

    In my attempts to research more recent M&Ms from the CDC, I came across an article published by the Journal of Veterinary Medicine published by the American Veterinary Medical Association. (AVMA Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions. A community approach to dog bite prevention. JAVMA 2001; 218: 1732-1749.)

    This most recent one aggregates data from a number of local studies, and manipulates it using variables derived from statistical polling, so the standard of error for the study (and thus the conclusions) might be suspect. Not being an expert, and judging by the number of prominent studies which cite results both in this journal in general and this article in specific, I would say I feel reasonable safe accepting the factors and variants that it posits.

    "Pit bull-type dogs, although not necessarily biting
    more often or being inherently more aggressive than
    any other breed, are overrepresented in the population
    of dogs inflicting fatal bites and those causing serious

    In making this claim they site another source, which is a longitudinal study from 1979 to 1988 on dog bite fatalities, but I cannot find that study online, or even relevant snippets, sorry. :(

    But under the epidemiology section of this study, they SEEM (I stress, this might be my own personal reading of it) to be inferring that one of the factors involved was perception of (and thus reaction to) the breed of 'Pit-bull type dogs'. During this period, it cites this source as saying that approximately forty-two percent of all fatal dog bites were from a 'Pit-bull type dog' (Forty-three out of one-hundred and one, which I would argue should be rounded to forty three, being forty-two point-five-seven-four-two repeating percent).

    Yet the number of adult males killed by dogs was vanishingly small – the vast majority of fatal interactions, with one fatal attack per sevent point five million dogs. Compare with the rate of infants killed, one fatal attack per three million dogs (again, over this time period).

    It's free through AVMA's site! I like journals that publish online for free (or for a low membership cost).

    Oh, and I looked up 'Stormfront'. If there were not so many individuals involved, I'd be tempted to think it was a parody of apologists for 'bigotry'/traditional prejudices. Admittedly, I am not good at discerning parody/satire from sincerity, but some of the topics and comments seem so… antiquated and caricaturist. Like what someone who was trying to belittle someone might say, to demonstrate the lack of cohesive reason.

  131. Grifter says


    You're just looking up Stormfront now? Wow…I can only infer that there's a great deal of the darker subsections of the internet just waiting for you to look at, like some sort of treasure chest full of feces. And I'm not sure if I'm sorry that you'll discover it, or jealous that you haven't yet.

  132. Chris R. says

    @Ben the problem with pit bull type dogs is that they are unfortunately mislabeled quite often as pit bull dogs. Look at this graphic and determine for yourself how without a blood test anyone could be certain the dog was a pit bull mix.
    Unfortunately because of bad media representation and ineffective reporting, pit bulls have been blamed for as many bites as they have, but I suspect that this number is highly inflated. I doubt most dogs that participate in biting of humans or even fatalities are genetically tested to determine actual breed.

  133. Chris R. says

    So without actual genetic testing, no national reporting system, and having to go off of media reports, how can we even begin to accuse one breed of being the main culprit in these attacks?

  134. Ben says

    Oh, Chris R.

    That is very interesting. I was unaware that anything but the American Pit Bull Terrier was referred to as a 'pit bull'. So really, it is an amalgamation of these three breeds and 'Pit bull type dog' might refer to crosses between these breeds and others, it seems, where the dominant characteristics exhibited are the jaw/dentition?

    Of the dogs on your poster, the only ones I would have thought of as "Pit Bulls" would have been 12 and 15.

  135. Ben says


    Well, I don't really look for 'white supremacy' that often. I lead a pretty ordinary life, I guess. I know some of the memes involving sites with negative connotations; 4chan and warez and bittorrents come to mind. So I am not entirely unaware. Just had not read about that particular site.

  136. says

    "This is completely unreasonable. The only way to do so would be to have the dog chained or leashed up 24/7, which almost no one would agree is a reasonable thing to do. On the contrary, that would be cruel. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a dog approaching strangers in its own yard. The dog's owners are not at fault whatsoever for the dog being shot, and to say that they are at fault for the dog approaching a stranger in the yard is to imply there is something wrong with the dog doing so, which is ridiculous. Dogs approach people. Deal with it."

    It is entirely reasonable to expect a dog (any dog) to be restrained either behind a fence or on a leash. A long leash is not a cruelty, and I doubt anyone could say keeping a dog in a fenced back yard is cruel. In fact, it is the law that dogs must be restrained in this way where I live. I don't know what the law is where this happened, but it is most definitely *not* unreasonable to expect dogs to be unable to reach people on the sidewalk. Owning a dog or being a dog person does not give you the right to tell other people to "deal with it" when your dog approaches us on the street. That's a completely selfish viewpoint that likely results in more dog bites as well as more dog fatalities. Bravo

  137. Kelly says

    @ Chris R: None of the dogs except maybe, perhaps 11 (in a dark room) looks remotely like a Pit to me.

    —general comment not directed at anyone in particular—

    This whole thing reminds me of one of my favorite books and a quote from it: "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." From The Little Prince

    Because we have domesticated dogs, we are responsible for their well-being. It is that simple. Irresponsible owners have used some breeds for bad things like dog fighting. That does not mean that all dogs of that 'breed' are bad. It just means some people are stupid.

    Police officers need to be trained in how to deal with dogs- all dogs. The fact that they aren't is a serious oversight.

    To say that a dog who is taught to protect what is 'his', meaning his 'family' by greeting everyone who comes on the property is 'bad' or 'wrong' is silly to me. Heck, when we had our English Lab, he was protective of me and the kids, but could have cared less about my (now) ex-husband. He never threatened anyone (well he did growl at my ex all the time), but he would stand guard at the door when anyone visited and didn't let them through the door until he was good and ready to. That being said, had a cop shown up like the ones in all the stories linked here… he would have been shot for no real reason. That is unacceptable, in my humble opinion.

  138. darius404 says

    It is entirely reasonable to expect a dog (any dog) to be restrained either behind a fence or on a leash.

    It is unreasonable to expect that at all times, which would be the only way to keep a dog from ever running up to people. Depending on the dog, a fence may not be needed at all. I don't know how many people in my neighborhood have dogs, don't have fences, and yet don't have any issues. It really depends on the dog.

    Owning a dog or being a dog person does not give you the right to tell other people to "deal with it" when your dog approaches us on the street. That's a completely selfish viewpoint that likely results in more dog bites as well as more dog fatalities. Bravo

    It depends entirely on the dog. I repeat, there is nothing wrong with a dog approaching a human being, let alone in the dog's own yard. If this bothers you, that is your problem, not the dog owner's problem. Yes, there are dogs you don't want approaching people, but to claim this is true for all dogs is to dramatically overstate the dangers that dogs pose to people. It is not a selfish viewpoint to think people should act reasonably when a dog approaches them, rather than freaking out.

  139. darius404 says

    An addendum: If the dog IS acting aggressively toward a person, that IS the owner's problem. But a person's REACTION to a dog approaching them is the PERSON'S problem.

  140. says

    It is the law where I live (so a whole country apparently agrees with me) that it is NO dogs "right" to approach people uncontrolled, they must be on a leash at all times. If they want to run free, they must do it in a fenced yard, inside their home, or in a fenced dog park.

    It doesn't have anything to do with the temperament of the dog, it doesn't "depend on the dog" at all. It is NOT my responsibility to determine whether your uncontrolled dog is actually uncontrollable, it is your responsibility as a dog owner to have that dog on a leash or in a yard where it is unable to get at passersby. Period. If that's not fair to your precious puppy, buy it a farm.

  141. Chris R. says

    @ktpick and darius,
    If the only place you keep a dog is in a fenced backyard I would definitely say that is cruel. Dogs like most animals suffer boredom and some breeds need plenty of exercise that most backyards cannot provide. Also in reference to the original post by Patrick, I cannot find any articles on dogs killing police officers. So again I find it suspect that dogs are shot so often by police who "fear for their lives."

  142. darius404 says

    It is the law where I live (so a whole country apparently agrees with me) that it is NO dogs "right" to approach people uncontrolled, they must be on a leash at all times.

    Did I say it was a "right"? I said there isn't anything wrong with it. Where I live, there is no legal requirement that dogs be on leashes "at all times". That is not to say there are no laws concerning dogs, but a person having a dog in their own yard, without a leash, it not illegal here. In fact, there are only 2 states in which a dog must be kept restrained even on the owner's property: Michigan and Pennsylvania.

    It is the law where I live (so a whole country apparently agrees with me) that it is NO dogs "right" to approach people uncontrolled, they must be on a leash at all times.

    Did I say it was a "right"? I said there isn't anything wrong with it. Where I live, there is no legal requirement that dogs be on leashes "at all times". That is not to say there are no laws concerning dogs, but a person having a dog in their own yard, without a leash, it not illegal here. In fact, there are only 2 states in which a dog must be kept restrained even on the owner's property: Michigan and Pennsylvania.

    It is the law where I live (so a whole country apparently agrees with me) that it is NO dogs "right" to approach people uncontrolled, they must be on a leash at all times.

    Did I say it was a "right"? I said there isn't anything wrong with it. Where I live, there is no legal requirement that dogs be on leashes "at all times". That is not to say there are no laws concerning dogs, but a person having a dog in their own yard, without a leash, it not illegal here. In fact, there are only 2 states in which a dog must always be kept restrained: Michigan and Pennsylvania. And both laws are unclear as to how restrained a dog needs to be when it is on it's owner's property.

  143. darius404 says

    Oh wow. Sorry, I must have accidentally pasted my text back in a few times. It really only needs to be read once.

  144. darius404 says

    Another error: the Pennsylvania law is COMPLETELY clear about restraining the dog, even on the owner's property. Sorry again.

  145. Dan Weber says

    I am definitely not a dog person. I don't think dogs have rights.

    But their owners do, including the "right to not have my dog shot to death when he's in his own yard and/or house."

  146. says

    @Chris R: Of course dogs need exercise and stimulation. I think people who leave their dogs tied in the backyard *at all times* shouldn't have dogs either. But dog owners also have the responsibility of keeping their pets restrained around others, including those passing by on the sidewalk, where it seems this officer was either standing on or near. That said, I was commenting on a specific pet peeve of mine (pun not intended) where dogs are allowed to run free at random people. I've had strange dogs poke their snouts in my baby's stroller more than once, and been chased by a loose german shepard myself, so despite being a long time dog person, I am very cautious of strange dogs (dogs I don't personally know). As for the police officer specifically, I don't know whether what he did was wrong or not though it is still very sad for the family. I still understand why he might have chosen a gun over another option in this scenario.

    @darius: We do live in different countries, and I didn't know what the law was there. Even so, I find it inconsiderate of pet owners who let their dogs jump all over people, run up to people, or poke their faces in strollers, etc. That's just my opinion, and obviously we disagree. It might be time to just agree to disagree here.

  147. Ben says

    Yet, I don't see how you can separate those two things, Mr. Weber.

    If a dog is just property, why should the police have to respect that property more than, say, respecting a potentially dangerous weapon. The law seems to view animals (not just dogs) – even companion animals – as nothing more than a tool to be owned. And like almost any tool, it can be turned by our curious little simian hands into a weapon.

    I think if we started acknowledging an intrinsic value on the life of at least companion animals, we could prevent this from happening again. Until then, it seems to just be a 'civil matter'.

  148. DIS says

    Ben, I think you're well meaning, but your logic is very somewhat robotic …

    Are you somewhere in the Asperger's spectrum?

    You do have hard time differentiating sarcasm form honest assertions as you've stated ….

  149. Chris R. says

    @Ben, police don't usually shoot at cars coming towards them. However cars are merely property, kill more people a year than dogs, and can easily be used as a deadly weapon. In fact I am sure 100% of operational cars could be used to attempt a homicide. There is no perfect argument here, no plain statistical fact that can some how make this all right. However emotionally, I wouldn't shoot the dog after telling the family their loved one was shot earlier. It was a cold thing to do.

  150. Chris R. says

    In fact there were 4280 pedestrian deaths alone in 2010.
    There were a total of 32,885 motor vehicle deaths in 2011.
    According to my above linked article there were about 100 dog fatalities due to police shootings.
    According to Gavin's link above there were 31 dog bite fatalities in 2011.
    Statistically I don't see why dogs are more threatening then deer who have 1/3 the population of dogs in the USA but account for nearly 7x the fatalities per year.
    Police in 2010 shot and killed 387 people in the process of committing a crime, though they don't keep track of all shootings so I can't tell you how many actual deaths happened.

    Quick math: 230,000,000 vehicles in the US / 32885 deaths = 1 in 6994 motor vehicles are a killer. 77,500,000 dogs / 31 dog bite fatalities = 1 in 2,500,000 dogs is a killer. Cops killed by dogs as far as I can find 0, cops killed by humans 173. So personally if I was a cop, I'd be much more afraid of the jogger running by me, than the pit bull.

  151. Ben says

    Huh. Yes.

    I actually can't find any dogs fatally attacking or mauling police. I know that there is a reduced likelihood of it being fatal because the police would be both armed and trained, so they would kill the dog, and the vast majority of those killed by dogs in the first place are children… But, I would have thought that there would at least be one in the last decade. Apparently, my thinking was wrong.

    It's not a category on but I just looked through all of the listings since 2002, just to see if one was related to a dog bite injury. I could not find an entry detailing the involvement of any animal whatsoever, other than the horse one (a man who fell from his horse, suffered a traumatic brain injury).

    Again, it could be slanted because police officers are more often armed, so they may just receive the initial wounds before they kill an animal, rather than suffering further damage.

    The NIH also has a whole bunch of work done on the epidemiology of dog bites. Unfortunately, it's almost all done just for the purpose of assessing it as a vector for human rabies.

  152. Narad says

    The NIH also has a whole bunch of work done on the epidemiology of dog bites. Unfortunately, it's almost all done just for the purpose of assessing it as a vector for human rabies.

    Would you care to provide a link? PubMed readily disgorges 605 papers on the subject, and I'm not finding any shortage of them that look at causation, characterization, and sequelae. Dogs are not really a vector of rabies in the U.S., so you must be looking at something broader.

  153. Chris R. says

    Ben, that's exactly my point. If you have the ability to kill, are trained for civil combat scenarios, is it right out of the fear of injury, not death, to take life? This goes for when police shoot unarmed people they feel threatened by as well, is it right to take life when threatened with injury not death? I am not saying police should be given the right to defend themselves, I am saying that when they respond with deadly force the public has the right to rigorously question the use of that force. In every police shooting of dogs / people I have researched while this discussion has been going on it seems the only response the police give is the officer felt threatened or suspected the person shot was armed. Google "police shoot unarmed man" and there are far too many instances for my liking.

  154. Ben says

    Yeah. The one that examines dog bite epidemiology in the United States, specifically, is

    And then this one didn't deal with a dog bite case, but of the potential for the spread of zoonotic pathogens in general

    Did you manage to find something on the epidemiology of dog bites that just dealt specifically with trauma?

    And when I submit epidemiology canine bite I get 648, but only 393 are full text available.

    And of the ones with the full text available, they only seem to study relatively small, endemic situations.

  155. Ben says


    So, what do you think we might be able to change about the police training/culture? My brother is an avid Libertarian (like one-step-shy-of-having-a-fallout-bunker, Libertarian).

    His concerns lay more in the realm of a 'police coup' conspiracy theory, and are less concerned with day-to-day realities like these ones.

    Do you think it is just a matter of more training or changing the content of training? Or do you think we should actually change the standards which we examine police by?

    (By that I mean taking power away from the internal review process, such as making them justify themselves in a manslaughter trial, which is what my brother believes should happen with every police shooting – because, who knows which police officers might just be murderous psychopaths, right?)

  156. Chris R. says

    Ben, I think increased training on how to respond to animals as well as unarmed civilians would be beneficial. I also think that there needs to be something other than an internal review when an unarmed person is killed by police. It is in my opinion unacceptable that persons who are trained to police a civilian population can turn their weapons on unarmed persons in most situations.

    Also as a side note, a cow was the only animal to kill a police officer last year:

  157. Medinoc says

    I'm with Sara on this: The cop did a terrible thing, sure. I won't argue when someone says he shouldn't be a cop or shouldn't be trusted with a gun.

    But even with this in mind, odds point to [i]incompetence[/i], not [i]malice[/i]. It's much more probable that what ran in his mind was "A CHARGING DOG! SHOOT IT!" than "LOL I KILL UR DOG TOO. U MAD?"

    And this, [i]even if the dog wasn't actually charging.[/i] The cop is obviously unreliable and shouldn't stay a cop, but claiming he shot the dog out of malice is counter-productive.

  158. Gavin says

    I suppose could be a poor source, but they cited everything they listed. Do you have any conflicting evidence? The wikipedia pages lists the same numbers and cites other sources. Feel free to contradict me with more valid sources than the citations in any of these, I believe strongly in peer review, but these number sources are pretty solid

    I'm not irrationally afraid of dogs, I love them and have owned some all my life. I'm just presenting my own experiences as counterpoints to anyone that would say that dogs never do anything bad and just fart roses. At the end of the day, they are animals, ESPECIALLY when the owners train them to be bad. The increasing trend to raise fighting pit bulls (people raise them to be fighters as a social status too, even if they aren't going to enter them in a fight) makes them tremendously dangerous.

    The fatalities are thankfully few, but the difference is that the dogs are actually attacking the humans. Deer are just standing in front of cars, that's hardly a reasonable association. 31 is a significant number, to put this in perspective in all of the 2000's, 28 people were killed in North America by bears, a truly undomesticated threat to anyone in their path . The 1990's saw 26 deaths which included 2 graphic polar bear-caused fatalities.

    At the end of the day, 4.5 million humans being attacked is a huge number. Remember, those are reported numbers, if I get bit by my own dog I'm not going to report it. 1000 per day requiring hospital care is also really significant. Dogs are thankfully too weak to easily kill but they are strong enough to seriously injure. The police officer didn't need to be afraid for his life, he could have been afraid of injury and for all we know he may have tried proper techniques to respond to the threat first (I doubt it). The fact is that we don't have enough facts here.

    Either way, dogs are extremely dangerous, even if not necessarily fatally so. The fact that I likely won't die doesn't mean I should be cool with a dog attack. Saying that dogs aren't a threat is naive (not that I'm calling any of you naive, you've all expressed valid well-thought opinions and I appreciate such civil discussion), especially when we have evil people owning them that actually train them to do harm. Pitbulls trained to attack do not respond as well to proper dog techniques (raise something above your head if you can, confront the dog without appearance of fear, back slowly away).

    So yes, it does matter what the breed is and it does matter what the neighborhood is like. Police deal with criminal dog owners regularly and know what the threat is like. That does not justify lethal force by any means, but this police force is guilty for not investing in life saving alternatives. I'd hate to live there.

  159. Gavin says

    Again, to reiterate the main point, death is not the end all reason to fear something. I only presented the fatality statistics to correct one of the posters who listed a smaller number and to establish that they do kill (though usually the very young or old).

    My main point is that there are a ton of dog attacks that seriously injure the individual on the receiving end. The statistic I'm trying to use here is the 1,000 attacks per day resulting in a necessary hospital visit. The possibility of death (particularly at the jaws of a pit bull) is just icing on the cake.

    A well-trained, loving dog is one of the most wonderful things to have. These are not the dogs I'm talking about. Even a well-trained pit bull is great.

  160. says

    Are you somewhere in the Asperger's spectrum?

    Let's try to disagree without offering off-the-cuff diagnoses of one another.

  161. says

    Gavin, you presented the 31 fatality figure thinking this would shock those who didn't realize what a small number it actually was. That you found a bear attack fatality number of the same magnitude really only reinforces the fact that dogs – which are so ubiquitous in our lives, unlike bears which only a tiny fraction of our population even sees in their lives outside zoos – are not "extremely dangerous" at all.

    Your use of the 31 fatality number relied upon people not immediately realizing that that number was so tiny in a population of approx 300 million people exposed to dogs on a daily basis. I used the whitetail deer fatality rate – four times the number annually – to illustrate how small the number was by contrasting it with something people did not already have the faux "fear" of given your number.

    And 1,000 hospital visits without any further context is meaningless too. Last week I visited the hospital to have a cut on my forehead, caused by a vicious bookshelf corner that did not even growl at me before attacking, stitched up. Two stitches.

  162. says

    To return this to the real issue, police officers in our country have the mentality today that they are entitled to use deadly force, recklessly, to prevent them from suffering even the fear of a scratch.

    To put that in context, for most years, the largest cause of police officer deaths on duty is vehicle accidents.

  163. Gavin says


    Actually, Grifter (In the Jul 14, 2012 @9:56 pm post) stated that less than two dozen people die every year from dog attacts, the pressing of the fatility number was to clarify that it's more; not a lot more but 50% more which I believe to be worth the mention.

    Likewise, Chris R presented the pit bull as the nanny dog. My point was also to express that of all dog types they really are the most dangerous and are significantly more likely attack you and if a fatality is involved, they're likely the ones involved. So I used the 31 number there to along with the percentages of which dog type killed them. At no point did I say that was a large number. Still, these are 31 people that did not have to die. This is at the fault of the trainers, not the breed themselves. But just because someone else is to blame for creating a killer doesn't make the killer itself any less dangerous.

    The reason I presented the bear number was to contrast it against a well known threat as opposed to deer that was used as a counterpoint. The only animal in the US that is more deadly to humans is the bee/wasp and that's only the result of allergic reactions.

    Bee/wasps: 53
    Dogs: 31
    Spider: 6.5
    RattleSnake: 5.5
    Anything lower on the list is 1 or less people per year on average (except for horses and bulls which are lower on the list because it's usually riding related deaths, not attacks).

    You are right that dogs are much more common in our daily lives and that is certainly why their numbers are so high. But that doesn't make them any less dangerous. All known predatory animals combined don't add up to the number of deaths caused by dogs. The number of deaths is trivial, animal related deaths as a whole don't really happen in the US, but dogs are at the top of it and if injuries are taken into account they are MUCH higher than any of the others (except for bees/wasps, I'd assume, I must have been stung dozens of times in my life as compared to the two dog attacks I've gotten).

    My main point is the 1,000 people in the emergency room a day. Context doesn't matter with such large numbers. Keep in mind that number of bites reported each year is 4.5 million. The number going to the hospital is something like 380,000. So that's already a significantly increased liklihood that the ones going there are more serious than the 4.1 million that choose to take care of it themselves and even those may have some serious wounds in their numbers.

    I am amazed that anyone is arguing with me that dogs can't be dangerous and cause serious harm. I live in an area where dog fighting occurs. Any one of these fighting dogs could cause me serious damage well worth defending myself against them like I would against any wild animal because the owners have made them to be just that, wild.

    I place strong value on animal life, the tragedy of a violent dog's death comes long before the death, it's in all the pain and suffering they went through to get to that point. Just because they were tortured doesn't mean they magically aren't dangerous. They really are. It just makes the whole thing a shitty and evil scenario brought on by the worthless scum that didn't value their lives to begin with. To think that the same dog that would cause serious damage to human life could have been raised to be a faithful companion to it.

    Also, I want to again stress that this didn't require lethal action. I don't blame the officer for protecting himself. He was likely very scared, I'd have been too. Now that I know that police department doesn't provide tasers I think the department is to blame moreso than the actual officer.

  164. Grifter says


    First off, let me apologize for my off the cuff remark based on my memory of the 2008 statistics (as well as the average before the millenium). I hereby correct it to "less than three dozen", and say it's still a negligible number.

    That said, in regards to your statement:

    "This didn't require lethal action. I don't blame the officer for protecting himself. He was likely very scared, I'd have been too."

    I do blame the officer for being scared, or at least I blame him for acting on that fear. As you said, this didn't require lethal action.

    Fear is no excuse for bad choices when you can't take them back.

    It is quintessentially his job to operate coolly even in the face of difficult situations. Knowing that a dog attack is unlikely to be fatal (no one has found a single instance of an officer being killed by a dog ever so far), and seeing the dog in advance, and knowing that dogs don't carry secret weapons and have no means of distance attack, the officer had every incentive to err on the side of caution.

    Some have said "What, you'd rather the officer got bit first?" And I would say in response to that false dilemma that YES, I would, since the officer can shoot a full magazine into the dog and kill it far before it does any significant damage to him. But of course, the dilemma is false. If the officer is scared, he should run back to his squad car, or at the very least into the street; he has no obligation to be there at all. Instead he "stood his ground" and shot a dog that wasn't attacking him. Maybe it might have, but it hadn't yet. The officer is a bad person.

    You can say "oh, he should have been better trained", but at the same time, he has to take a certain responsibility for his own training if he's going to be bandying about lethal force that the recipient of the force can't understand (you can't tell a dog "stop or I'll shoot!").

  165. Chris R. says

    Gavin, no one is arguing dogs can't be dangerous or do harm. What I am arguing is 2 separate points.

    1) That saying pit bulls are the leading cause of all these attacks when dogs are genetically tested after attacks is misleading, feeds hysteria, and is the product of media sensationalism. Please check the link to the poster I provided above for reference.

    2) That trained police officers should not resort to shooting at dogs, humans, cats, or hamsters unless there is an established threat. I'm sorry but when police shoot unarmed persons and we let them off with "they were threatening" our value for human life has fallen below our need for a sense of security. Running growling dog does not equal threat, police have even shot Chihuahuas. Which, I'm sorry, you could punt if you had to. Police have also shot other humans, including police, when discharging their weapons at dogs.

    More numbers. I researched every reported police fatality in the past 40 years for animal related deaths. Here are the numbers. (
    Cow – 1
    Yellow Jacket \ Bees – 2
    Horse – 6
    Spider – 1

  166. Chris R. says

    I said

    1) That saying pit bulls are the leading cause of all these attacks when dogs are genetically tested after attacks is misleading

    I meant: aren't

  167. Gavin says


    I don't care that you were mildly out of date on the current statistic. I just meant to point out the actual number, not make a song and dance about it like others here seem to. The idea though, is that fatalities are a good indicator of the danger posed to us by an animal and dogs are several times as likely to kill humans than most anything else (310 times more likely than wolves, for a crappy example when animal deaths are so low). This is, of course, due to how common dogs are all around us. Still, about 4.5 million people in the US will get bitten this year.

    @Chris R

    1. A lot of counter propoganda has come out advocating the peacefullness of pit bulls. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Pit bulls don't kill people, people who train pit bulls to kill, kill people. Indirectly via a dog, but it's still their training doing the deed. You do not need a genetic test to tell what's a pit bull and what isn't. I'm sure that some of those numbers are off, but even if 50% of the reported pit bull attacks were some other breed, pit bulls would still be responsible for 35.5% of the attacks each year. That's still more than the Rottweiler which is hard to misidentify.

    Are you saying that the particular type of pitbull should be identified? Are you telling me you have difficulty telling dog breeds apart?

    @Grifter and Chris R,

    Sounds like police have shot more than they should have. What I'm talking about is this particular instance where a "suspected" pit bull was running violently at an officer. The dog could have bit or nipped at the officer for all we know. We simply don't have any eye witness and arguing back and forth about the nature of this instance isn't reasonable without more information. For all we know the dog got the officers nuts first (doubtful)… As for an established threat, a dog has dangerous weapons built in and regularly charge with them. An officer is supposed to raise their weapon if someone walks towards them with so much as a butterknife, dog teeth can do so much worse. Are we to expect an officer to treat an animal better than they treat humans?

    Or is the point that officers should treat every better? That's a good point if so. I'm just saying that I understand the officers response. If he'd had a taser and had tasered the animal I wouldn't bat an eye. It's this lethal response that has me upset as the story is laid out (the dog just running at him and not even necessarily attacking/biting).

  168. Gavin says

    @Chris R,

    Do you have any numbers on how many police are injured by dogs? That's the statistic within the 1,000 americans in emergency rooms per day that I'm pushing here as to the danger of dog attacks. The postal workers got around 2,800 bites per year and they're just walking.

  169. Grifter says


    You cannot really "run violently", and trying to use rhetoric like that seems, to me, to indicate a bias on your part.

    The dog had not attacked the officer; that would have been noted in the report. It is disingenuous to imply otherwise. "We don't know he didn't grab the officer's nuts first". True. We also don't know whether the officer frequently beats dogs and kills puppies.

    We have only the data provided: A dog which had not attacked anything approached an officer at a high rate of speed, possibly with an aggressive demeanor (let's grant it for the sake of argument…it was growling let's say, and barking), and the officer shot it before it attacked him. The officer chose that instead of: Retreat, words, nonlethal means, kicking, or even waiting to see if the dog actually attacked. The officer resorted to violent means before any violence had happened. He was the aggressor. He was therefore wrong. In the case of someone advancing with a butter knife, one hopes that an officer would give a warning before firing. If the officer didn't, wouldn't we be finding fault with him? And if the person advanced despite that, then that would be legitimate information, and would indicate real intent to do harm or sudden irrationality.

    I'm sorry he was scared; I can play the world's smallest violin for him to the tune of "you are the only one with a deadly, penetrating distance weapon in this equation, and it is your job to behave rationally in the face of fear", second movement, entitled "if you can't handle the very premise of your job, you should not be doing it". I do not want the police to resort to deadly force as their first defense to their own fear, I find that morally reprehensible.

  170. Chris R. says


    1. A lot of counter propoganda has come out advocating the peacefullness of pit bulls.

    Again you are basically paraphrasing It is not counter propaganda to cite that the only studies to identify pit bulls are more represented in dog fatalities went off of media accounts. The dogs were not genetically tested. That is fact, not opinion.

    But has their own "poster" of identify the pit bull to prove people are apologizing for pit bulls! That poster is littered with purebred dogs. Even you Gavin said that pit bulls are trained and over represented in dangerous / poor areas. Do you know how much pure bred pit bulls cost? Or could they pick up dogs they think look like pit bulls at the pound? Every study cited that is quoted on these links used media reports for statistics, not genetics.

    Then you ask me if I have trouble identifying dog breeds. Yes I do, when they are mix breeds. The fact that you seem to think visual identification of mix breeds is scientific in some way diminishes your argument.

  171. darius404 says

    Even so, I find it inconsiderate of pet owners who let their dogs jump all over people, run up to people, or poke their faces in strollers, etc. That's just my opinion, and obviously we disagree. It might be time to just agree to disagree here.

    Please don't try to put words in my mouth. I never said that dogs jumping over to people or poking their faces in strollers was alright, I specifically said there is nothing wrong with a dog approaching a person, and it doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the dog's owner. Let's keep the disagreement to thinks I actually believe, ok?

  172. says

    "The number of deaths is trivial, animal related deaths as a whole don't really happen in the US, but dogs are at the top of it and if injuries are taken into account they are MUCH higher than any of the others (except for bees/wasps, I'd assume, I must have been stung dozens of times in my life as compared to the two dog attacks I've gotten)."

    Except I've established that dogs are not at the "top of it". By a factor of four.

  173. darius404 says

    Grifter said:

    You cannot really "run violently"

    I think a person CAN run violently, but the problem is that "run violently" and "charge" are rather subjective statements. It's hard to tell from the wording if they were in fact acting violently, or if they were just moving quickly.

    Gavin said:

    1. A lot of counter propoganda has come out advocating the peacefullness of pit bulls.

    To say there is counter propaganda is to concede that the original statements are propaganda as well. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, of course. Propaganda can be true statements and facts, but still be propaganda. By that token, though, the "counter propaganda" is not necessarily false either. Being "propaganda" only that it is intended to influence the recipient(s) toward a particular viewpoint.

  174. darius404 says

    Correction: Being "propaganda" only means that it is intended to influence the recipient(s) toward a particular viewpoint.

  175. says

    I'll say it… All babies in strollers should be licked by dogs. It's a moral imperative.

    And any healthy adult that cannot deal with a dog that wants to jump up should hide in their basement.

    Now big dogs jumping up onto old people or into the strollers is going a little far, but we don't really get a lot of that at an intensity that rates news coverage.

    As a species we re-manufactured dogs (as a species) to be these social adolescent dufuses so we have a duty to deal with what we have made.

    Besides if dogs didn't accost baby or old people think of all the viral videos we would be missing out on.

    Why do you hate youtube and the capitalist business model?

    /doh. 8-)

  176. says

    @Chris R. — Not that I know of, but I'll steal the credit if you can show me the reference…

    When I think of real genius I only think of popcorn. 8-)

  177. Ben says

    Narad, sorry, I did not see your post. Was not trying to be rude.

    Thank you for the link. I was looking for a canine bite epidemiology report that did not consider potential pathogens, just trauma/laceration caused by the bite.

    The fifth result is a free article, it is a localized study of animal control data, it also has some interesting conclusions (with their definitions of provoked versus unprovoked).

    It mentions rabies vaccinations, but more as an aside – they don't really draw conclusions regarding the rate of non-vaccinated animals, other than that the higher rate of canines without current vaccinations was probably due to the proximity of the United States / Mexican Border.

    Also, they contend that more enforcement of public leash / animal restraint laws would lead to a lower overall bite rate (44% of the canine bites involved 'unrestrained' dogs) and reduce the cost of animal control, as it seems that "post-incident quarantine" is a major portion of their overhead.

    None of that really speaks to this topic though. What I had originally been looking to find was a continuum on the damage caused (either in dollars spent on recuperation and recovery or in terms of long-term morbidity) by dog-bite trauma.

    I wanted this information so that we could have a framework to discuss at what point it becomes reasonable to choose an individuals well being (again, I only wanted the information for nonfatal bites) over a dog's life.

    All the same, it appears that a police officer has such a low probability of being actually killed (not maimed, necessarily) by these dogs, that I think we can say that lethal measures are an over-reaction.

    Again, sorry I didn't thank you sooner. Just didn't see your comment!

  178. Narad says

    None of that really speaks to this topic though. What I had originally been looking to find was a continuum on the damage caused (either in dollars spent on recuperation and recovery or in terms of long-term morbidity) by dog-bite trauma.

    The third article that appears on that search dump deals with just that question. I assume that you do not have institutional access or a library that can provide it for you; take a look at that one, see what the related citations are, and go from there. It's simply not a project that I can undertake at the moment. I will venture that you're probably not going to be able to hold out for a prebuilt grand syntehesis; the data collection looks to be primarily over time on the local level.

  179. Gavin says

    Will try again:

    The police aren't releasing anything, do you have more information than we do? As for "running violently", are you serious? Have you never seen a snarling/growling dog running at you? There is a tremendous difference between a charging dog and a dog trotting up to you. I've seen dogs express a tremendous range of emotion from joy, playfullness, anger, to sad and even embarrassed. I swear my second dog actually learned to mimic the word "out" when he needed to use the bathroom as it sounded like out and that sound was exclusively used in that situation. To think that anger or violence is outside of their scope of emotional expression is ridiculous. You say that the dog had not attacked anything before, but there's no evidence either way. It could have been the killer or savior of babies everywhere for all we know.

    Henrico County is at the center of the dog fighting epidemic. The police even had a Sherrifs deputy arrested for running a large dog fighting ring.

    The police in this area have probably regularly seen dog attacks first hand moreso than anywhere else (the south is already the worst area in the country for dog attacks with that particular area being the hot spot). My guess is that his fear is from experience. We do not know how the dog was behaving and we know that this area has had children attacked by dogs before (there was another dog shooting albeit non-lethal while it was attacking a 12 year-old kid).

    As for this dog in particular. I'll remind you that its owner is an individual that walked 8 blocks in the middle of the night (shortly after midnight) to an all-night store in a bad neighborhood to get a "video or something". I am by NO means saying that the guy deserved what he got. I am merely pointing out that the individual did not express any caution in a neighborhood where his brother was stabbed to death (though it took two years for the wounds to finally kill him with a heart attack). I am also saying that you don't go eight blocks in the dead of night for a video, you go there for the "or something". I would not think this family would be above dog fighting.

    Dogs can be animals, no less dangerous than knives.

    @Chris R.

    I've never read, I merely used it as a source to cite statistics because it was the first page to come up. The statistics are the same elsewhere on the internet so there's no question of reliability of the pure numbers.

    Remember, I've had dogs and will have some again if I ever get a fence. See, I'm not going to buy a large potentially dangerous animal unless I can control it and no fence=no control. I don't think it's too much to ask of large animal owners to take precautions that this family did not.

    As for the identification of dog breeds and the likelihood of purebreds. All we really care about is which dog breed is dominant in appearance. It being mixed doesn't make a ton of difference when they account for 71% of the damage while only making up 5% of the population (a number also arrived at without blood tests). Even halving the number is still more than the second place of easily identified Rottweilers who are specifically trained to attack (though they are typically kept behind fences with the goods they're supposed to protect). How do you feel about Rottweilers? They're super easy to identify and yet they do a LOT more harm than all other breeds of dog besides pit bulls.

    As for the availability of the breed, they are speed bred. There's a lot of money in dog fighting (hence Michael Vick, a wealthy man, finding it worth his time) so it's seen as investment. They're also regularly stolen from owners. The people behind my house who owned the pitbulls that got my Chiguagua had pairs of actual pure bred pit bulls in every room of that building and in their back yard. The two in the backyard regularly hurt eachother when they weren't mating. It turned out the guy wasn't even living there and had a warrant out for his arrest for animal cruelty, dog fighting, etc. I'd wager that 5% number I cited is a serious underestimation simply because of how difficult these groups would be to find.

  180. Gavin says

    Breaking up the two new posts in case there's some sort of size limit I wasn't aware of. Please forgive the double posting and feel free to delet the small post I made whining about the loss of a much larger post than the two I'm making now.

    Huh? I cited legitimate sources listing dogs as the clear first place winner of animal-attack related fatalities (non-insects) and only second to bees/wasps by 20 deaths if you include insects. Are you still talking about deer? They dont' attack, what kills the people is the velocity they're traveling at. You might as well cite the ground and gravity or even trees as "dangerous" while you're at it. We're talking about animals that are purposely attacking people. The number of deer related accidents don't come close to the 4.5 million attacks by dogs and don't even begin to touch the number of emergency room visits caused by dog bites (380,000 by dog bites). These are auto related incidents and aren't counted by any credible source.


    Exactly, there are two sides feuding here. One is demonizing pit bulls and the other side is giving them sainthood. Both are wrong. Just as humans have a propensity for doing evil, so do animals. The only difference is our ability to rationally understand what we're doing and its consequences. But dogs also have the ability to protect, care for, and love humans when raised properly.

    Both sides pull to the extreme but the middle is far more likely. The difference is entirely in how the animal is trained. Some raise it to be wild and so it is, some raise it as a pet and it turns out like any other sort of dog. Both sides a partially wrong and partially right, just like most extreme opinions usually are. Even a golden retriever can be "evil" if the owner abuses it. All of this crap, it's about not trusting the owners, not distrusting the animal. I trust animals far more than I trust people and the fact is that people are making a habbit of abusing pit bull breeds right now.

    Thanks for your comments.

  181. darius404 says

    Except I don't think the dog did anything wrong in the scenario we're all responding to. In general, I think most people here are "in the middle". Those of us who side with the dog in the cited scenario believe that the specific dog did not need to be shot, that claims it was acting aggressively are without basis (unless new information comes to light), and that the officer, who is supposed to be trained to deal with stressful situations, and should be trained to evaluate potential threats, immediately went to the most lethal option.

    Personally, I feel this may be indicative of a trend larger than just that of cops shooting dogs, but a trend where cops use force as the default way to deal with, well, anything; where lethal force is used where nonlethal force (or no force at all) would have sufficed, and using non-lethal force when declining to use force would have sufficed.

  182. Gavin says


    My point is that it is just as wrong to assume that the dog is being innocent as it is to assume that the dog was doing something bad. Both are baseless given the serverly limited evidence involved. Given the area and the current proliferation of dog fighting I am more inclined to believe that the dog was intending to attack the officer even if I disagree with the use of lethal force. The difference between using a baton and the gun is the problem I have, not that he defended himself.

    This particular area is besieged with this sort of dog trouble. Even the lawyers in the area list "Dog Bite Law" under their practice areas. If that's common in other areas let me know, I used to research law firms and their practice areas in my first job and almost never saw that listed. My guess is the police have had some rough run-ins with dogs. Who knows, this could have been the same officer that saved the 12 year-old boy from the other pit bull attack in the area.

  183. darius404 says

    My point is that it is just as wrong to assume that the dog is being innocent as it is to assume that the dog was doing something bad.

    The burden of proof is on those bearing a positive claim. It isn't up to us to prove the dog was not aggressive, it's up to the people claiming the dog IS aggressive to show it was.

  184. Gavin says


    Why? Why do you get to decide which one has the burden of proof? Why is the dog being good to be assumed over a person being good? That's a double standard steeped in bias. You're essentially saying that the police officer committed a crime and that it's his burden to prove his innocence. This has never been true.

    The question isn't whether or not the dog is bad, it's whether the cop or the owner was bad (or a little/lot of both, as I'm guessing). The area itself has evidence of both. From that county having a dog fighting epidemic to the police demonstrating trigger happiness. We do not have enough evidence to point either way and yet people are taking strong sides here without knowing much of anything about it.

    Given the evidence I presented about the area, do you not think it'd be possible that this was an attack dog? Do you think that a man going to a seedy store at 12-4am for "something" would be particularly above raising fighting dogs? If I lived in an area like that, I'd strongly consider at least raising a dog that could defend me and the mother was clearly distraught. I can imagine even a good dog going to defend its master in just such a situation. It thinking it's doing a good thing makes it no less dangerous, only more justified.

    The only evidence I've been able to get on the area points to the officer's favor even if we look at his actions with disdain.

  185. says

    Gavin, the emergency room visit number remains dubious since it has no information on severity of the injury.

    And I don't share your belief that fatalities from whitetail deer are not "attacks", we don't really know that deer are not members of Al Queda.

  186. Gavin says


    The emergency room visits can't be entirely dismissed just because you don't know that. Let's assume that at the very least there's a scratch and at the very most body parts are missing or there's just a lot of holes in places holes shouldn't be…

    The point is, you can take any sort of accident and list the number of emergency visits it causes. You can likewise call any of those into questions too. Therefore, the severity of any statistics used are in the same amount of question so the volume is still significant. The highest number I saw from deer accidents (i.e. CAR CRASHES, emphasis just for fun) was 1.5 million. Wiki places it in the hundreds of thousands. 4.5 compared to 1.5 when the severity of both in question makes the 4.5 option significant. Still, a car is more dangerous than a dog.

    Good point about the deer, you're probably right. We also don't know about the trees or buildings people so regularly hit with their cars. Those could be sleeper agents! The ground itself and gravity too are clearly the main components of a terrorist plot that goes to the very top. We should suspend all areas of physics immediately until we get down to the bottom of it.

  187. Ben says


    What do you perceive us to be discussing?

    My perception of these comments is that they are an examination of the claim that the individual in question (the police officer), put forth – that of being afraid for his life – was appropriate. It would be difficult without access to the officer, to inspect whether or not he truly felt as he claims he felt.

    So in the sense of a 'burden of proof', we are discussing not whether that individual dog was behaving aggressively (because, even with a wealth of statistical evidence, such a thing would not be possible to determine – only assign ever more accurate probabilities) – but instead we seem to be having a few (only minimally related) discussions.

    As I have read the comments, the concerns I see are;

    What training do police officers have in identifying animal (specifically canine) aggression?

    What is a reasonable level of aggression before a police officer is justified in defending himself with deadly force?

    and, somewhat related,

    What is the likelihood that, if attacked, this individual would have suffered non-negligible or "serious" injury?

    I have been reading through the free text links on pub-med, trying to filter out any 'long term' studies that involve Zoonotic pathogens. Some commonalities that emerge are that the risk of immediate damage requiring hospitalization from an unfamiliar, unrestrained canine bite is far lower than that of a familiar.

    The studies that include standards for determining provocation (not what you and I might consider provoking an animal, such as teasing, threatening or hitting – but provocation seems to be considered anything along the lines of 'human approached dog') most found that a slim majority of unfamiliar dogs involved in bites were unprovoked, and that a majority of all dog bites, in general, were provoked.

    (The studies I am referring to are;

    That one is fairly old, before a lot of implementation of animal control policies in suburban areas. So, if you cross reference some of the general statistical claims, you will find they no longer apply. However, I have included it because it has an interesting table, breaking down of the behaviors of the bite victim at the time of the bite (page 264, if you want to skip to the goodies without the preface).

    I know… It's another older study dealing specifically with pediatric care. Yet, it has some of the interesting analysis about the relationship between attitude and perceived severity of dog bites. Also, some of the 'cost of care' figures are humorous when compared to more recent studies.

    So yeah, back to the main topic of conversation – it does not seem that he is saying that we must prove or disprove the individual dogs aggression at that time, but that all things being equal, we have no more evidence to negate the officers account than to support it.

    The question, to me, becomes is it reasonable? And I think people here have made a very compelling argument that no, it is not reasonable.

  188. Ben says

  189. Gavin says


    My only claim is that we can't assume the dog was innocent. So I was calling the previous posters out on their burden of proof. That's why I posted everything in response to the people here claiming that the dog was just going up to lick and tell the officer hello and to perhaps offer him a delightful candy from the dog's charity pouch. You know, the one that the owners always kept on their neighborhood wide beloved saint-dog to welcome people to the best darn neighborhood in the USA!

    By your very argument, you have now just established that the burden of proof is on your side. Additionally, my primary argument is that we do NOT know the truth and I have established as so many here have agreed that we don't have enough information, so I haven't made a claim requiring backing. Also, I have pointed to the odds being in favor of the dog itself likely having been trained to be violent either for protection or even possibly to fight (Though many owners have pitbulls trained to be fighters or violent even if they have no intention of ever actually having them fight. It's simply become part of the culture.). So me stating that I'm leaning more towards it being a violent dog is at least grounded in something even if it doesn't negate the use of lethal force on the officer's part.

    So there is no remaining burden of proof on my part. I've established all parameters of the discussion and explained clearly how either or both sides could have been in the right/wrong. The only thing I've absolutely affirmed is that the police department shares blame in every shooting that occurs because they haven't bought tasers. I could say that the police officer himself should have used at most a nightstick but I don't know if I'd trust not being mangled to a stick. Maybe pepper spray and the stick if I responded quickly enough. My personal guess is that the dog was attacking and the officer panicked. Wrong on both sides. But I don't know and have no way of knowing with the horse's mouth coming around.

    So I don't think the officer was gun happy. I think the officer was scared and made a mistake given an extremely limited amount of time (hearing the dog, seeing the dog, and reacting in the amount of time it took it to cross the yard. Sprinting dogs are fast.). So calling him evil or assuming that he just hates dogs is pretty unfounded. It's more likely that he's just afraid of pain.


    What a rational and thorough response. Great links too. Thanks for chiming in!

    I'll point out a few things though. I'm not saying that the sources are wrong but a few things have to be considered.

    1. There is a major push to say that the dog was provoked. Most people do not want the death of a dog on their hands and will say it wasn't the dogs fault (I personally believe it is almost always the owners fault though the provoker can bear particular persuasion over the dogs attitude based on how they provoke it). This mentality significantly skews the data. As I mentioned earlier, my niece was bit in the face by her uncle's dog. She was being watched at the time and her mother knows that the girl didn't approach the dog, but she still told authorities that it was provoked. Most of us here love dogs and would probably do the same thing.

    2. Familiar dog-related injuries will always be higher because many owners don't let their dogs roam freely for fear of loss of the dog or out of a good sense of responsibility. I don't go into the backyard of a stranger, I go into the backyard of a friend who's having a BBQ. I've been nipped on and off by friend's dogs but I certainly don't list them in my history with dog injuries. I could see how someone else would though. So again, there is an easy skew there.

    3. In all of this, we must keep in mind the area this occured in where a culture of dog fighting is thriving with this particular breed of animal. Such an area has statistics skewed in the other way to make themselves an outlier of dog agression.

    4. Lastly, the police were on the people's property and had made the owners distraught. The dog would no doubt have picked up on something it seemed was a threat they needed protecting from. A percieved threat of its owners is a form of provokation. But keep this in mind, just because you did something that the dog responded to doesn't mean that it's your fault. It is still the owners responsibility to train a dog to differentiate between immediate dange and just a kid running on the yard to get his ball. This dog being kept off the leash in the conditions it may have been in could have just been a glass on the edge of the counter waiting to get bumped in the wrong direction.

    My greatest fear in all of this is that the dog was simply a loving and protecting dog that was trying to keep the bad men away from its owners. That didn't make its attack any less dangerous to the officer, but it certainly justified it in dog-terms.

  190. Grifter says


    The dog was demonstrably not actively attacking the officer.

    Had it been, the officer would have been bitten. Dogs have only that means of attacking. So maybe the dog would have, but it did not.

    Prior to the dog approaching close enough to attack, the officer made a judgment. We are all criticizing that use of lethal force as: dogs don't often attack, when they do it's almost never lethal (your own numbers show that the number of attacks vs. the number of deaths is statistically insignificant). You keep saying "he maybe shouldn't have used force, but he was scared, so it's okay", and our point is that it's not okay. No one should use lethal force just because they were scared, and the government should certainly not be giving a gun and badge to someone who's justification is "I was scared". The only time to use lethal force is when you can say "there was a credible threat to my or another's safety that could not have been dealt with any other way". While some leeway should be given for the average citizen, the officer is a representative of the government, and does not get any leeway based on incompetence, nor should he.

    We've already established there were other ways, and that lethal force wasn't required or even justified. Therefore, the cop is wrong, and is a bad person. There are some mistakes that, even if genuine mistakes, mean that you are a bad person:

    If you get drunk, and drive, and kill someone, it was a mistake, you are unlikely to have meant to kill the person, but you are still a bad person. If a paramedic gives the wrong drug and kills someone because they were "scared", they are incompetent, and considering there is a baseline level of competency expected of their job, they are a bad person. And if a police officer uses lethal force inappropriately, that officer is a bad person. I'm all for saying "It's possible more information will come out later", but based on the evidence presented, lethal force wasn't justified, therefore I don't care if it was wanton or a mistake, the officer is still an asshole.

  191. Gavin says

    @ Grifter,

    The dog was "demonstrably not actively attacking" the officer? Demonstrably as in clearly/undeniably? That's an interesting stance considering that what little evidence we have only says the dog was running at him and that's it.

    Did you find the video of this event? If so, please share it with us so that we may have the first real piece of evidence other than people saying that the dog was running at the officer. I will gladly change my opinion based on new evidence as any sober minded individual would when presented with new facts.

    All I see is a picture of a dead dog within three feet of a bullet casing.

    Now let's be CLEAR on one thing. I have never said that it was OK. I have also not said that he shouldn't have used force, just not lethal force. I would appreciate you recanting that additional step as it has breached strawman territory. What I have said is that he was right to defend himself but should not have used lethal force. He may not have had time to pull out pepper spray and may not have trusted his skill at a baton against what he percieved to be a visious animal but the fact that a taser wasn't there speaks only to the negligence of the police department in that county. As I've stated, investing in tasers is investing in the preservation of life in situations that would otherwise have been deadly.

    At no point do I think lethal force should have been the first and only response but I also understand that he was limited in time and resources in the split second decision he made. Making a bad decision in that circumstance doesn't make you a bad person. A bad person is someone who has the time to make a concentrated decision and chooses the wrong one even though viable alternatives exist, knowing that it's not the right choice. This guy was probably just scared (he may not have been, he may have just hated dogs, but prove otherwise) and didn't want to go to the hospital that day. Poor split second responses don't mean you hate dogs or are bad like you claim. I once cold-cocked a buddy who jumped around the corner in a mask to scare me. He was totally unconscious and I took him to the hospital. Does this mean I wanted to hurt my friend or that I'm somehow evil for defending myself against a percieved threat? Perhaps your moral framework would indicate yes, at which point we'd be at a philosophical impasse.

    This is a county with very dangerous dogs in particular and don't think the police there haven't been running into them here and there (remember, it's the police that shut down a dog fighting ring run by a sherrif's deputy in that county).

    Let me ask you a question. Let's say a man is running at him with a knife. Is it ok for the officer to shoot that man or should he just wait to see if the man is about to offer him a piece of cake?

  192. Grifter says


    I feel you are being disingenuous, and you sarcasm falls flat as a result. I do not need a video. I will break it down further for you: The dog was running at him, but had not approached close enough to bite yet; therefore, since there is no distance weapon involved except the officer's, the dog cannot be attacking yet, only at worst approaching to attack. This is undeniable, unless you think the dog had teeth rockets that he was going to fire.

    Is that your position? No? Then a video isn't necessary to prove the point that the dog, being still at a distance cannot be actively attacking anyone.

    I'm sorry I forgot the word "lethal". It wasn't a strawman, though, so simmer down.

    I maintain, however, that you are wrong in saying force was justified at all. A nightstick is a close combat weapon; he could have pulled that out and used it, and it would only be useful if the dog was attacking. But more to the point, the officer always has 2 options, fight or flight. In this case, he chose fight, and with lethal force. For no reason other than "maybe this dog will eventually attack".

    "At no point do I think lethal force should have been the first and only response"
    And yet it was. Argument over. Whether force may or may not have been justified isn't even the point, because even you agree lethal force wasn't.

    "Making a bad decision in that circumstance doesn't make you a bad person. " Yes it does, when that is the exact nature of your damn job. If he can't be trusted to make a good decision under stressful circumstances, he shouldn't be a cop. Especially if his bad decision is to just start killing. Period.

    "I once cold-cocked a buddy who jumped around the corner in a mask to scare me. He was totally unconscious and I took him to the hospital. " Did you shoot him? Knife him? Kill him? No? Then obviously, though you may have reacted poorly (more important than whether you were or not is that you weren't being paid not to act poorly), you did not resort to lethal force. So, good job! Is your point that the officer should have just cold cocked the dog?

    A man with a knife is also not "actively attacking" while he's at a distance, even if he says "I'm going to cut you" and starts running your way; he is only actively attacking when he's close enough to actually do anything with his weapon. Also, as I've already said previously in this thread when I used that example, in the case of a human, I would expect a warning, and to continue after that warning would be more information that would indicate a credible threat, while "stop or I'll shoot" sounds to a dog like the adults in a Peanuts movie: "Wha whah wha whah whahh".

  193. Gavin says


    The bullet casing is like three feet away from the body. The dog could have been right there. The police aren't even talking about it, for all we know the dog took a bite and the officer waved it off because they just don't want make the family suffer more after their kid and dog we both killed. You're making entirely unverifiable facts about something to which the only witnesses aren't talking. Anything could have been happening at that distance. There could have even been a brief scuffle or the officer could have just barely escaped the first bite attempt. All we know for sure is that the dog is dead and that it was VERY close to the officer at that moment, easily within striking distance. This assumes that they didn't kick the shell closer, I guess. And don't forget, police don't just wait until they're harmed. If someone pulls a weapon they can open fire right then and there.

    The dog was right there. The dog couldn't have been any closer without actually being attached to the officer himself. I don't know where you get this image of a dog in the distance being shot. The dog is just a few feet from the road and the bullet casing too. Considering that bullet casings fly to the side (not straight down or backwards), this was almost point blank if not actually point blank.

    As for Fight or Flight, you aren't supposed to run from a dog, that will only make things worse. You should read up on techniques on how to respond to potentially dangerous dogs. First step = stand your ground and only after the dog is no longer running at you, then back away slowly. Besides that, you yourself just stated basic governing natural tendencies to either flee or fight. Officers are specifically trained to fight because we as a society need them to. Beyond that, some people have a natural fight response. How is your natural fight response different from an animal's natural desire to protect its master?

    A strawman is simply misrepresenting one's position. It doesn't mean I think you're acting maliciously or anything like that. You stated that I thought his actions were ok. I have repeatedly stated that we can't know for sure. All of my points have been to firm up the idea that we don't know the dogs intentions and we don't know the officer's intention. And yes, intention makes a large difference when making lofty claims about someone like they're a bad person.

    As for whether or not lethal force should have been used, if he had no better alternative then he has to do what he needs to in order to keep himself safe. I believe he chose the wrong action and he needs to undergo better training because of it, but we also don't know the exact parameters of the situation given the possible scenarios I've already mentioned.

    As for me hitting my buddy, how does the nature of my fight response change based on how much damage it does? If that same blow had caused something to snap and he died, would that have then changed the morality of my actions in some way or would it then just be a tragic event? What if I'd had a knife at the time already in my hand and used it? He was holding a weapon himself though I didn't know it was fake at the time. By all accounts I thought I was in danger and reacted preservingly.

    A man charging you with a knife is attacking you. The definitions of "attack" do not include a necessary range of proximity. It only means to take aggressive action against. So I reject your definition of "attacking". The only definitions I can find that use the term "active attacks" are in hacking. I fail to see how a physical act of aggression could be anything other than active.

  194. Grifter says


    “The bullet casing is like three feet away from the body.”

    Bullets are ejected from guns. Basically, the bullet casing being several feet (unless you have a magic photo ruler, you don't know how far away it was) away means nothing. More on that farther down, where you address it again.

    “The dog could have been right there. The police aren't even talking about it, for all we know the dog took a bite and the officer waved it off because they just don't want make the family suffer more after their kid and dog we both killed.”

    “You're making entirely unverifiable facts about something to which the only witnesses aren't talking. “

    Who's making up unverifiable facts? The article says charging. With no mention of a bite, thinking “but it might have happened!” is poor argument.

    “Anything could have been happening at that distance. There could have even been a brief scuffle”

    But there wasn't. The dog was charging per the article, no mention of an attack. So lots of things could be, but aren't.

    “Or the officer could have just barely escaped the first bite attempt.”

    Incredibly unlikely based on the choice of words by the reports.

    “All we know for sure is that the dog is dead and that it was VERY close to the officer at that moment,”

    Nope, we don't know that.

    “If someone pulls a weapon they can open fire right then and there.”

    No, they can't, not on someone else's property when they have no right to be there (no enforcement action) And even if they could, they shouldn't unless there's no other choice.

    “The dog was right there. The dog couldn't have been any closer without actually being attached to the officer himself.”

    Please stop repeating yourself on this. You are wrong when you assert this as a fact (although it is a possibility). I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you know nothing about guns or ejection patterns.

    “I don't know where you get this image of a dog in the distance being shot.” – got it from “the dog was charging around the corner”, Y'know, as opposed to “the dog was lunging at the officer”.

    Words mean things.

    “The dog is just a few feet from the road and the bullet casing too. Considering that bullet casings fly to the side (not straight down or backwards), this was almost point blank if not actually point blank.”

    Ah, you think you do know about these things. That explains your vehemence. Unfortunately, you are wrong. For reference: THIS.

    “As for Fight or Flight, you aren't supposed to run from a dog, that will only make things worse.”

    Unless you can completely escape the dog by, say, entering your police cruiser.

    “You should read up on techniques on how to respond to potentially dangerous dogs. First step = stand your ground”

    And shoot a dog that hasn't lunged at you (as evidenced by the news report not mentioning it)? No? Then we once more have a moot point.

    “Officers are specifically trained to fight because we as a society need them to. Beyond that, some people have a natural fight response. How is your natural fight response different from an animal's natural desire to protect its master?”

    Again: the officer didn't need to fight. He had no business there that was crucial. If one of the homeowners had opened the door of their own house, illogically blaming the cop for the death, pointed a gun at the cop and said “get off my property right now!”, the officer would have been in the wrong to shoot.

    “And yes, intention makes a large difference when making lofty claims about someone like they're a bad person.”

    So drunk drivers are A-ok people by your logic even if they kill people because they didn't intend to? That is your argument as I understand it.

    “As for whether or not lethal force should have been used, if he had no better alternative then he has to do what he needs to in order to keep himself safe. I believe he chose the wrong action and he needs to undergo better training because of it, but we also don't know the exact parameters of the situation given the possible scenarios I've already mentioned.”

    Also, the dog could have been a robot! Or T-K9000! Let's continue to speculate wild theories to defend someone who used lethal force rather than using the facts at hand.

    “How does the nature of my fight response change based on how much damage it does?”

    If you don't understand that there is a difference between lethal and non-lethal force, then you are someone who should not own a gun.

    If that same blow had caused something to snap and he died, would that have then changed the morality of my actions in some way or would it then just be a tragic event?

    Well, since punches almost never kill, that would be “bad luck”, something not forseen. Do you think the officer was under the impression bullets don't kill?

    “What if I'd had a knife at the time already in my hand and used it? He was holding a weapon himself though I didn't know it was fake at the time. By all accounts I thought I was in danger and reacted preservingly.”

    You are not a police officer. While I would think you were in the wrong, it is not your job to act rationally in the face of danger. That is exactly what a police officer's job is.

    “A man charging you with a knife is attacking you.”

    – So now intent doesn't matter?

    If I hold a knife in my hand outward, and announce loudly, “I'm going to be running in a straight line to see how easy it is to hold a knife like this”, I'm not attacking anyone.

    “The definitions of "attack" do not include a necessary range of proximity.”

    I think you really don't understand my point, which was you cannot effectively attack anyone at a range greater than your weapon is. If you want to still call that an “attack”, I don't care about the sophistry of it, the point is that an attack which literally cannot succeed (no matter how tightly a dog clamps its jaws from a distance, it can't bite from a distance) is no attack at all. The dog was advancing, sure, and might have attacked once actually within biting range, but it literally could not commit any aggressive action against any person from a distance.

    “ It only means to stake aggressive action against.”

    If your weapon cannot harm the person, there is no way to take an “aggressive action against”.

    “I fail to see how a physical act of aggression could be anything other than active.”

    Let's say I run towards you because it looks like you're braking into a neighbor's house “Hey, what the hell are you doing?!” I shout. I'm running and behaving aggressive, but is that an attack? And is there any fundamental provable difference between that and what the dog was doing (assuming for the sake of argument its demeanor was growly)?

    Attacks are when you do an action intended to commit harm. Example: Running toward someone cannot harm them. Tackling them can. You haven't actually attacked the person until you tackle them. That is what I meant by "actively attacking".

  195. Grifter says

    Great, first I posted it in the wrong post, now I see several glaring typos. The previous was @Gavin, not @myself. The dangers of multiple open tabs, longwindedness, and cut-and-paste!

  196. Gavin says


    The picture has the bullet casing marked as evidence in the scene. You can see where it is in relation to the body of the dog. It is marked as 1 and the dog is marked as 2. I find it interesting that the police seems to be thoroughly investigating it. If the casing was unmoved, the dog was clearly in leaping distance. The pdf you linked me to (good reference, I enjoyed the read, thank you) only stated that the casing can't be used to gauge the exact location the shooter was standing, not that the distance is completely unreliable. For you to be right the cartridge would had to have gone forward (the entire forward 180 degrees almost never happens with every possible setup the study did and forward flying casings aren't likely to go very far). Statistically, the officer was likely between the dog and that cartridge.

    The definition of attack includes the charge. If I was a member of the Japanese army in WWII and ran at you with a sword, I would be attacking you even if you shot me from ten feet away. I'm not merely dancing in a field of flowers with a sword until I can actually swing. So, I will go along with the textbook definition and leave it at that. The dog was attacking even if he didn't get to actually bite the officer.

    (or, as I've said all along, it was something different and we can't tell that because of the horrendous lack of facts).

    I am only responding to thos points as your definition of "attack" seems to depend on proximity. Also, it seems we were getting side tracked in a lot of the other areas so in the effort of reducing "windedness" I'm cutting myself short. Please let me know if there was something specific you think would make a difference if I answered.

  197. Grifter says


    You are not going along with the textbook definition. Only if the dog actually attacked, or at the very least we knew for sure it intended to attack, is that true. We can't verify it either way, however, we know the dog never "Took aggressive action against", any more than the "guy yelling at apparent burglar" example in my long post above. The necessary element is the "aggressive action", which is meant in the sense of "aggressive = physically violent", which was never present here on the part of the dog.

    The officer was presumably afraid he was going to attack, but the dog never got a chance to. Much like if, in WWII, the Japanese fleet had sunk on the way to Pearl Harbor, we would not say "The Japanese fleet was attacking pearl harbor, which was 100 miles away when they sank", we would say "The Japanese fleet was on the way to pearl harbor to attack, when they sank."

    You said "I've said all along, it was something different and we can't tell that because of the horrendous lack of facts.", but the facts as presented show someone who shot a dog running in his direction when he had alternative options that we've discussed at length. Lethal force wasn't warranted. "I got scared" is not a legitimate defense for a police officer to make poor decisions about life and death, therefore he as least guilty of a form of negligence that, in my opinion, makes him a bad person.

    I would like to know which of those points you take issue with and why.

  198. darius404 says

    My only claim is that we can't assume the dog was innocent.

    And MY only claim there was that this is ignorant, and that the correct way to think of it is to say we can't assume the dog was aggressive.

  199. Chris R. says

    The dog was innocent until he actually hurt someone. The dog was never given a chance because he was killed. Being afraid is not justification for killing. Just like when Henrico Police shot the mentally disabled man, who was being violent but had put down all items and his hands up, but refused to stop walking towards them. You don't shoot someone who is walking towards you with their hands in the air. If that happened between army personel and prisoners it would be considered a war crime. Choosing lethal force because you are uncertain what's going to happen next is flawed, dangerous, and criminal.

  200. Ben says

    It seems reasonable that if we say human life is more important than the life of other non human animals – then whatever threshold we use to define 'credible threat' will reflect that difference, right?

    What we find to be a credible threat is more akin to a 'risk management'/actuarial assessment of previous, similar situations than it is a systematic examination of our individual situation.

    So is it altogether unreasonable that an attacker who has declared "I am going to cut you" and runs at another individual, while bearing a knife, would be perceived as a credible risk by the second individual? Similar situations usually result in serious injury to one or both parties. There are any number of eccentric scenarios in which the attacker was, in actuality, not a credible threat.

    (Our attacker could be a hired actor with a collapsible stage-knife. Our attacker could just be mentally unbalanced and enjoy scaring people, with no real intent to harm. Other, more fantastic situations are possible, no doubt.)

    Even so, I think that the argument can be (and has been) made that with a single, unrestrained and unfamiliar dog the argument can be made that using killing an animal to prevent a bite is probably disproportionate to the 'threat' involved.

    Once it has bitten then one should reassess the risk factors involved – was it truly attempting to do damage (piercing skin followed by pulling or shaking), issuing a warning (either piercing skin or not, but immediately releasing and attempting to flee) or attempting to engage in play (most likely not piercing the skin, just quickly pressing the teeth against skin without biting force, and then exhibiting other signs of play).

    An acquaintance at our humane society (he's an actual employee, not a volunteer) who I mentioned this to, noted that in his experience and training, fearful dogs are far more dangerous than aggressive dogs. He also noted that some police have to deal with loose, feral animals – and this might have colored the reaction – when there are not enough animal control officers to 'go around'.

  201. Gavin says


    Again, I go back to my WWII example. If I am charging at you with a sword in open battle and you shoot me dead while I'm still ten feet away, I was still attacking you. I was taking aggressive action towards you and that's all it takes to constitute an attack. This is not a fleet in the middle of the ocean who never made it to the enemy. There is a degree of proximity in that way, I suppose. But charging is part of the attack. It is part of the force behind the blow.

    But the thing I'm pointing out is that it may not just have been fear. As I pointed out when I used your own excellent resource to my benefit, the officer was likely point blank with the dog. He could very well have waited until the actual attack before shooting. Do you believe there is no way that this could be the scenario? He could have been backing up as the dog ran towards him holding off to the very last moment and doing the only thing he could think of in that short time. This isn't saying that the police officer did that, it's just saying that the people automatically siding with the dog aren't being very true to justice. No one can be condemned on the evidence found and yet Patrick and many of you are saying that he was trying to piss all over this devesatated family and was just shooting the dog for shits and giggles. That's wrong, that flies in the face of due process and it's easy to white tower this situation but I'm saying we should look at the facts or the lack thereof. It's not unreasonable, it's rational.


    There are two parties here, the officer and the dog. Both sides have equal claim to innocense yet you're claiming that the animal in an area where they're trained to be violent has preference over a human being.

    I'm saying that neither have preference here, except the human is the only one with the legal right to be innocent until proven otherwise. As I said before, this isn't about trusting an animal, it's about trusting the family who raised it. I do NOT trust them based on the evidence presented but I also have no particular reason to trust the officer.

    So, praytell why in your view the dog gets priority of belief and anyone else who says we can't assume that is wrong?


    Good reasoning and nice points. I'd like to see the police report on the matter. The dog looks to have been close enough to attack, I wonder if the only witness (the police) have something to add.

  202. Gavin says


    We have two sides now. I can't tell if they're disagreeing or if the statements can be combined.

    The sister says the dog did not jump on the officer and the police say that the dog lunged at the officer and he shot to prevent being bitten. It's possible that the dog lunged but never made it to the officer, in that scenario both sides could be apologized to one another.

    Otherwise it's down to dissenting claims again. But at least there's some more facts.

  203. Grifter says

    @Gavin: The day that dogs have the ability to sheathe their teeth (or, for that matter, point them at someone), and we're in a state of declared war with them, is the day your analogy will make any sense. Intent matters; intent can be assumed when a state of war exists. So if your argument is that dogs are at war with the police, we have a whole new level of discussion, neh?

  204. Gavin says


    So, you're saying because dogs are unable to not be dangerous that they shouldn't be considered dangerous? Only one of us isn't making sense.

    I'll point you to the link above, the owner knew the dog was attacking the officer. She said she'd do the same thing in his shoes. The officer's only mistake appears to have been not letting it bite him first so people wouldn't talk about it.

  205. Grifter says


    No, what I said was that your analogy didn't make sense, because it presumed a state of war between the parties. I maintain that that is still a valid point.

    "The owner knew the dog was attacking the officer."

    I had read both your links before, as neither one is new; she never at any point says the dog attacked him.

    'The dog never jumped on him, but he just took out his gun and shot him.' Ms Ellerbe said.

    And the other article:

    "The dog never jumped on him, but he (the police officer) just took out his gun and shot him," said Latoya.

    She said she'd do the same thing in his shoes.

    No, she didn't. What the article said was "Latoya said she understands why the policeman fired. "…If a dog came charging at me, I'd defend myself," she added." The only actual quote we have from her is the second part. That she'd defend herself. Defend doesn't always mean lethal force. Barring seeing the actual interview, we do not know how that was meant. The woman is also dealing with the fact that her brother got murdered.

  206. V says

    So, you're saying because dogs are unable to not be dangerous that they shouldn't be considered dangerous?

    That's not what's being said. Knife wielding adults running towards you are much less likely to have friendly things in mind than running dogs.
    Adults hardly run anywhere. Which is okay by itself; it could be part of a workout or someone running to the police officer for help.
    Running with a knife in their hand, much more conspicuous; a lot of people are taught not to run with knives, forks or scissors or figure it out for themselves. Even then, unless it's a big sharp kitchen knife or combat knife, shooting possibly is not an appropriate first reaction.
    Dogs are much more likely to run anywhere and are a lot more likely to bring their mouth filled with teeth without any particular purpose in mind for them.

    I'll point you to the link above, the owner knew the dog was attacking the officer. She said she'd do the same thing in his shoes.

    You're putting words in her mouth. (You said) she said she understood why he did it and that she'd defend herself too. That does not necessarily mean she'd shoot the dog. It also does not necessarily mean the dog was attacking. Alternate explanation: "she understood that a big unfamiliar dog running toward you can be terrifying"

  207. Gavin says

    Fair enough, she did not say she'd do the same thing. But she was there and she knew her dog was attacking him. Otherwise she would have said something like, "No, our dog would never do anything like that, Tiger was just running up to give the big ol' meanie officer butterfly kisses". Instead, she admitted that he was in the process of attacking the officer and that the officer was justified in defending himself but not necessarily in using lethal force.

    Have neither of you been in a situation where a dog was aggressively trying to attack you? I've been saved by being quick more than once (and there being a fence nearby that I could hop, or car nearby that I could get to in time). You can tell when a dog is curious vs. when it is trying to get you. Both of these people knew that was the case and the officer acted accordingly regardless of whether or not you agree with his methods.

    So, with the evidence in mind, I fully believe the dog was attacking the officer and that he was defending himself. I continue to agree with all of you that he went too far and had enough other alternatives, but I think force of some kind was completely warranted here at this point. Unless any of you have any evidence that would point to the contrary, all the evidence we now have is everyone saying that the dog was being agressive and that the officer should have defended himself (albeit not lethally).

  208. Grifter says


    We can argue all day about whether the dog was attacking or not. Doesn't matter.

    We agree lethal force wasn't justified; therefore, because the police are granted lethal force and it was misused, it is my position the police officer is an asshole.

    (And, for the record, I have dealt with some pretty vicious dogs before. Oddly enough, never had to shoot one.)

  209. Gavin says


    We can't argue about it, though. We weren't there and the only two people there admitted it was attacking. If you present another account where someone claims the dog wasn't attacking and that the officer wasn't justified in defending himself (not shooting, just defense), then we can argue. I was presenting the new articles as a summary of what happened since we did not have that evidence before.

    I will also stand by the idea that a bad decision does not an asshole make. He was scared and he over reacted. This only implies that his track record needs to be reviewed and he needs to get better training so he doesn't over react against a human someday or a peaceful animal.

    Again, in an open field against an attacking pit bull I do not know exactly what I'd do to defend myself against pretty heinous wounds. He did not have a taser, my go to choice in almost any situation. He just likely had a club and mace. Mace is always difficult to get to so let's give him the benefit of the doubt of not feeling like he had time to get it.

    Then it's just a club or a gun. The dog was already proceeding to attack so just retreat wouldn't prevent injury. My question then would be if he felt confident enough to trust his intact body to his skill with a club against a dog. I'm wagering it all happened too fast and he responded with his only sure bet. Something we all agree was too much but I don't think that makes him an asshole. Just not experienced or trained enough in this area. Or, on the flip side, perhaps he's had too much experience in this area and knows the damage these dogs can do and so is scared for that reason.

    In any event, I am surprised that the victim in all of this acknowledged that she knew the dog was being agressive and would have defended herself too in the same situation. Most people would take full legal advantage of this event. They're better people than I gave them credit for being.

  210. Grifter says


    Stop. You keep reading what you choose into it. The woman never said the dog attacked. I've already addressed that upthread. Stop asserting things that aren't true.

    Regardless, my point was that, without further information we can argue all day but there is no way to resolve it. You've chosen to believe the dog must have been attacking, so much so that you consistently say things were said that were not said. I've chosen to believe what the information we've been provided says (For example, that the dog never jumped at the officer). I'm not going to change your mind on the subject, clearly. But that is no longer the point if you agree that lethal force should not have been used.

    But then you go on to justify the force that you previously admitted was unwarranted. Mace is no more difficulty to get to than a gun, please don't give me that crap. They both are in a holster, and both on his belt.

    Again "The dog was already preceding to attack". No it wasn't. It was charging in his direction and never jumped at him even once, it never got a chance to. That's from a quote "'The dog never jumped on him, but he just took out his gun and shot him.' Ms Ellerbe said."

    You keep basing your argument on things that are just not based on the evidence as presented but rather how you choose to interpret those words regardless of other statements, and without justifying that interpretation. Please stop doing so. I do not want to have to keep pointing out the same untrue statements you make over and over.

    The only part here that we can discuss philosophically is "I will also stand by the idea that a bad decision does not an asshole make." — I'm going to assume you mean "a mistake", not "a bad decision" in general, obviously crimes etc. can an asshole make.

    But even that is something I'd question you on. How is that different than a drunk driver who kills people? They just made a "mistake". Most people, I think, would agree that even if it's a "mistake", if it's a wanton one that shows no regard for life, and has catastrophic consequences, that that makes you an asshole.

  211. Gavin says

    The girl issued three statements.

    1. The dog never jumped ON the officer. (this does not mean the dog wasn't attacking, this means the dog hadn't actually gotten on the officer yet.
    2." Stricken with grief, Latoya ran outside her home. She said one of the officers followed, but the family's pit bull, Tiger, charged at him."
    (She stated that the dog charged at the officer. This is a statement of agression, do you specifically disagree with this connotation of the word charge? The definition applicable here is that the dog rushed violently against hte officer.)
    3. Then she stated that she understood why the officer did what he did, "…If a dog came charging at me, I'd defend myself," she added."
    (Again, affirming the idea that the dog charged the officer and that she would defend herself too. This means that she thought the dog was charging the officer and that the sort of charging the dog was doing would have warranted defense of self if she had been on the recieving end of it.)

    There is no way to interpret this any other way than the dog attacking the police officer. The dog saw her running away and saw the officer pursuing her. It sounds like the dog was directly trying to protect her and thought she was in trouble (this had been my fear all along, that it was just being a faithful dog in the midst of a tense situation).

    We must, therefore, accept that the dog was posing a threat. To reject this is to reject the evidence at hand. Do you think she mispoke when she said the charging bits? Do you think the officer should have waited until he was actually bitten? Let's say that he had appropriately pulled out the night stick or mace and used it right then just before the dog got to him as he did with the gun, would you be ok with that instead (in other words, is it only lethal force you're opposed to or is pre-empting the attack at all something you oppose?).

    That leaves the "does this make the officer an asshole?" bit. You use examples like drunk driving, where you're liable to kill a family of innocent people who are just on the road with you. Can you remind me how this applies to someone posing a direct threat to your wellbeing? Specifically an animal that is charging you with the mindset of making sure you don't harm its master ever again?

    The officer should have defended himself, the drunk should never have gotten in the car. The officer's mistake was using a mallet to swat a fly, not swatting the fly (not a perfect example as the fly dies in both situations and the notion of a fly diminishes the value of animal life, but it sticks as a common phrase regarding over zealous actions).

  212. Gavin says

    Keep in mind, I understand that you oppose the use of the word attack. But we have a difference of opinion regarding what constitutes an attack. I believe the violent rush against the enemy is part of it, you think it is only the last action which may result in harm if it hits the mark and is unblocked. I'm going with the definition

    1. to set upon in a forceful, violent, hostile, or aggressive way, with or without a weapon; (
    2. to begin hostilities against; start an offensive against: to attack the enemy. (

    Neither demand the actual blows to be made, just the aggression with intention to harm which I believe charging demonstrates. The charging of a dog is every bit as important as the swinging of a blade.

  213. Grifter says

    Now you prevaricate your position. She never said the dog attacked. Period.

    You have chosen to interpret charge as attack. That is fine, and we have discussed the difference several times, and I have explained why I do not think the two are equivalent. Others have explained as well that you are wrong when you say "There is no way to interpret this any other way than the dog attacking the police officer." But you keep pushing this "she said it was attacking, and she said she'd do the same" argument that is flatly untrue.

    When you say she said he attacked, you are putting words she did not say into her mouth, and you should take those words back instead of trying to defend them, because they are incorrect.

    As regards to drunk drivers: I was extrapolating based on your logic, not drawing an analogy, but I can see how you have attempted to explain yourself.

    "You're liable to kill a family of innocent people who are just on the road with you. Can you remind me how this applies to someone posing a direct threat to your wellbeing?" — fair enough. So your point is that someone can be as reckless and irresponsible as they want, provided there's some direct threat to their wellbeing that they perceive. So drunk gunman, then?

    The analogy you then try to draw is invalid, because it presupposes the death of the fly as a "good" condition (flyswatter or mallet, you're trying to kill).

    Instead, this is more along the lines of a mentally handicapped child swinging a deadly weapon at someone who is at a distance. The child must be stopped, but doesn't fully understand what's going on; the officer knows this, but the officer shoots to kill anyway.

    While we understand that the child was doing something dangerous, at the same time, the officer is a bad person for leaping immediately to lethal force, particularly to meet a danger that is not reasonably going to be lethal (around half of the yearly deaths are to children, and we have yet to ever find a case of an officer being killed by a dog). Not every possible threat deserves lethal force, and any responsible gun owner will tell you that you don't just start shooting any time you feel threatened. To do so is reckless, irresponsible, and dickish. Only "reasonable force" is allowed for civilian self-defense, and I expect at least that from a police officer.

  214. Grifter says


    I didn't see your second post there, guess I was typing mine. We've already covered this ad nauseum, and I have explained (yet you have not addressed) how I feel you are wrong (I used a WWII fleet example). Repeating yourself doesn't help much. But I would ask: At what point is that no longer true? Say the dog is 300 yards away. 3 football fields. It is "charging" toward a target 300 yards away. Is it "attacking" that target, or is it running towards it so that it can attack when closer? To return to my analogy, is the entire time from the time the fleet left Japan to the time it attacked Pearl Harbor part of the attack?

    For the record, the definition you provide does not establish your case; it's one of those words that is only defined by words that mean the same thing ("set upon" means "attack on all sides"

  215. Gavin says

    Ah, the WWII example. I was wondering what you wanted me to respond to.

    There is a difference between traveling to battle and engaging in battle. In one scenario you are only trying to get to the battlefield, but once there it is when they begin to target their enemy to inflict harm that they are attacking. Is a kamikaze pilot not attacking the ship when it turns to crash into it? The charging of a dog, like with so many animals, is no different from the act of swinging an arm holding a sword. It is just the method of getting the weapon to the desired spot.

    In this instance the dog saw the target, thought the target posed a threat to his master, and decided to charge it. I think we both know that the intention of the dog was to attack the officer. It was a noble and faithful act of an animal thinking it was doing something good. There is little doubt in my mind that had it closed that distance the officer would have been injured. I think all the evidence points to that and I no longer think the dog was being vicious, just protective.

    So, I propose we discuss it this way since we disagree with what "attack" actually means. Perhaps "threatening to attack" would suffice all sides here. Would you agree that the dog was threatening to attack the officer? Would you agree that left unchecked he likely would have done so (bearing in mind that he thought he was protecting someone he cared for, not just being a bad animal)? If yes, at what point would you have preferred the officer wait to defend himself if he only used nonlethal force to do so?

    The fly analogy is actually just a common phrase (usually with sledgehammer, not mallet, but I didn't think that particularly mattered). It just means overkill. Please note that I stated this in my post: "but it sticks as a common phrase regarding over zealous actions"

    I apologize for the confusion. However, the phrase does presuppose that killing the fly is a good scenario. It means you solve a problem/nuisance, which is a good thing, by using too strong of a response, a bad thing.

    The officer's attempt to defend himself would be the fly here. The use of lethal force would be the sledgehammer. The analogy of the phrase only fails here in that the "fly" dies either way and I stated that you'd take it in this manner, I thought me pointing that out would avoid this confusion.

    As for the drunk gunman line of thinking: My point is that action had to be taken in this situation. He needed to defend himself. The owner accepts this. The drunk driver does not need to be drunk, or to drive, or to wield a gun. The officer just chose the most absolute option and I believe that's the only reason we're having this discussion. I understand what he did, I don't think it means he was evil.

  216. Grifter says

    Ahem. We do not both know that the intention of the dog was to attack the officer. We can presume that was a very likely scenario, but we also can't possibly know is how "attacky" the dog would be. I've seen dogs aggressively charge at people, only to just bark and jump at them, never biting.

    We can, however, agree on the term "threatening to attack". Did the officer have a legitimate fear for his personal safety? Yes. If I've ever seemed to contradict that, I apologize. He had a legitimate reason to think the dog was eventually going to attack.

    However, having not been actually attacked yet and knowing that the dog has only one means of attack, and that the officer has at least 4, including kicking at the dog, and the ability to retreat, I believe that, especially in light of the officer's purpose for being at the scene, the officer had no present need to defend himself. (The owner said they would protect themselves from a charging dog, not that the officer needed to defend himself.)

    To answer your question, the officer should have waited until the dog was actively trying to bite him (leaping on him, etc) before employing even "nonlethal" means, and lethal means were completely uncalled for.

    You have previously agreed that using lethal means was uncalled for, but you continue to say that doesn't make him "evil" or "bad". I would repeat that if you make an irreparable mistake due to your own callous negligence (In this case, use lethal force where lethal force is not warranted, in fact, where it is arguable whether force is warranted at all yet), you do not deserve to be a police officer, at minimum, and the fact that you did it makes you a bad person, because you know you should know better. If this were not a police officer, but rather a lay citizen, I would be more sympathetic to the incompetence, because a lay citizen has a lower standard of behavior than a police officer. But it is, so I am not.

    To address your final point a little more clearly: " My point is that action had to be taken in this situation. He needed to defend himself." I disagree completely. Action did not have to be taken yet. By the owner's own words, the dog hadn't jumped yet. Pulling out a gun, or pepper spray, or a baton, all would be appropriate actions…using them before the dog has actually done anything isn't.

  217. Gavin says

    It seems we have come to an understanding at least.

    I think since the outcome of him being attacked was likely (despite not knowing 100%) and that he had a legitimate reason to fear for his safety that defense was warranted. I don't think it really matters if his defense occured a second later or later than it did but we can just agree to disagree on that. I hold this position because the dog was taking this action to protect the girl from what he saw as a threat. The only time I've seen dogs look agressive and then not bite is when there's no clear motivation for their attack other than you being there or when the person they're running at responds in a way that gives them pause (like raising an object above their head as if they'd bring it down upon attack).

    As for his negligence, I think this is just an opportunity to review his service history to see if there's been multiple mistakes in this area and to put him through more rigorous training. Had it been a human life or if there is a significant past of this then I'd expect dismissal. Keep in mind that I see this like a person charing him with a knife. I don't agree with lethal force but we must also understand that the time it takes for a dog to get across a yard is significantly less than a human. We must take into account the limited options the officer had and that retreating isn't an option when you're not faster and there's no where to run to. Running is specifically a no-no in responding to dogs, all we have then is standing your ground and defense if necessary. Kicking and baton use carry their own risk of you not being fast enough. Pepper spray would probably have been best but it does take longer to get to it, remember that officers don't train as much in quick drawing pepper spray like they do in gun use.

    I'm just saying we need to consider the parameters and realise that the officer was in a bad situation and that while we don't think lethal force should have been used, reality is a different thing altogether. We can't expect police officers to act like soldiers. They aren't. There are experienced officers and there are rookies. They learn on the job.

  218. Grifter says

    So if he'd shot a handicapped child, this debate would be the same in your mind, and it would have been perfectly fine from an ethical standard to shoot the kid?

  219. Gavin says

    What? I'm afraid you're going to have to explain such an odd red herring.

    FYI, we can agree to disagree if you so wish. I've enjoyed our discussion despite being at odds with you on the topic. It's how we learn and grow, after all. Putting ourselves around people who disagree and hearing them out.

  220. Grifter says

    It is not a red herring.

    You stated that his use of violent force was totally justified, and defended his use of lethal force as a "not bad" action in terms of ethics. I translated the dog into a child, and asked if the situation was otherwise identical (a handicapped child with a knife), if you'd still be making the same arguments? Because they'd all still apply…the only difference is the human vs. animal life aspect.

  221. Grifter says

    And I too, have enjoyed the debate so far, even if it has gotten rather long. And while I am not necessarily averse to the "agree-to-disagree" end-point, I prefer to know very precisely what we're agreeing to disagree about, specifically as opposed to broadly. In this case, we quibbled about the meaning of attack and so on, but fundamentally didn't disagree on many points in the end, however, now I feel we're homing in on the core disagreement, but let's see if I'm right.

  222. Gavin says

    Yes, I think we're coming to the core. I just wanted to make sure you had the opportunity to stop the conversation if you wanted to.

    Just because a child is handicapped doesn't make them any less dangerous when wielding a weapon. I think this department's greatest problem is not investing in a taser and subsequently training them on drawing that when possible. As such, this situation is entirely on the department's shoulders in my opinion. The desire to use long range attacks for defense is reasonable and tasers can achieve that without taking life. If the situation came down to the officer's life or the child's then the officer would be fully justified to take the child's life. This dog is only impaired in that it doesn't realize that the officer isn't trying to harm its owner or what the gun does. The dog is otherwise as intelligent as any other dog and able to make concentrated attacks and is much faster than a typical person. In a situation where an officer has to kill someone that they could have just tasered, I think the department is to blame.

    This situation is also different because it's an animal life. I do place a higher emphasis on human life over animal life and I assume you do too. If you disagree, then we have an immense gulf of disagreement between the two of us. Here's the lesser degree of disagreement that we probably have: I think people should be able to do whatever they need to in order to protect themselves from a dangerous animal even if their lives aren't necessarily on the line.

    Make no mistake, a dog attacking you to protect it's master is an extremely dangerous animal. I think we should use non-lethal force when possible, but in a pinch it's simply safer to keep the animal away from you even if that means using a bullet. I know animal lovers like yourself may disagree, but I don't think an animal should have to mangle your hand before you defend yourself. I think the officer saw a serious threat and responded in a way that assured his safety. This does not make him a bad person. It makes him not-mangled. This is why I think the biggest problem here is a department that won't buy tasers. If he had a taser on his belt and used the gun anyways, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Does that statement make a difference?

    A few months ago the same police department responded to a call where a child was stuck in a house being attacked by a pit bull. The officer shot the dog to protect the child while it was attacking him. Was that also bad or does the actual attack make a difference in your eyes?

    I would personally have used the mace or night stick (perhaps both), but I am comfortable in my physical strength and agility. Then again, I used to be a professional blacksmith in college and can strike with accuracy you're unlikely to see in the police force (I can hammer a leaf pattern, veins and all, with a six pound hammer if that means anything to you). I don't assume that the officer was so comfortable with it. Again, they aren't soldiers. They have training but it really isn't the same. They are just people that are sometimes put in really crappy situations.

  223. Grifter says

    Okay. We've established that the dog wasn't what I originally called "actively attacking" yet, but was charging in the officer's direction. The officer had legitimate fear for his own personal safety. We've established that he had multiple other options, but chose to use his gun and lethal force instead of them.

    I think you keep agreeing with me without meaning to. "I think people should be able to do whatever they need to in order to protect themselves from a dangerous animal even if their lives aren't necessarily on the line." I agree with that. But we've already established he didn't need to shoot and kill.

    "I would personally have used the mace or night stick (perhaps both), but I am comfortable in my physical strength and agility. " — If a police officer isn't, then they shouldn't be a police officer.

    I do see animal life as profoundly different from human life, of course. I was only pointing out that you weren't explicitly making the "less worth" of the life of the dog an issue, and your arguments could as easily be applied to a mentally handicapped child.

    I feel that if the officer used lethal force when he should not have (and he shouldn't when he has other options and his life isn't in significant danger), that that officer should not be an officer, and is kind of a dick. Not "Hitler-level", but on the scale of morality, shooting to kill a dog when you have other options and you don't use them is on the black side. Your argument seems to be "But defense had to happen, so therefore he can shoot to kill because he might not have felt that he could manage the non-lethal options". If that is the argument, I feel you are wrong because a police officer needs to be expected to have a certain level of competency before they are in the field, by themselves, with a gun, and managing the non-lethal options when appropriate is part of that.

  224. Gavin says

    Ah, we are much closer of opinion than I initially thought.

    I avoided bringing the variance of value of life into play because I didn't know what kind of animal lover you were. There are some that would place all life on equal scales. Until you just made this comment I couldn't entirely rule out the possibility of you being one of them.

    Given the incredibly short amount of time he had to respond, I think a somewhat reasonable case could be made that the gun was the swiftest option he had that was also a long distance weapon. Their yard wasn't particular far for the dog to cross and it wasn't like the officer was instantly aware the moment the dog began to run. The gun is the fastest thing to draw. They practice it all the time. In the back of my mind, I'd hope he pulled the gun first and was also fumbling for the mace in the meantime. But I doubt that's what he was doing, he probably didn't have enough time to fully think it through.

    I think this shows lack of experience more than lack of morality or concern for animal life. I don't think lethal force was the only option, but can put myself in the same shoes of a person with less experience around animals and understand why this spur of the moment decision could be made. I'd like to know if this officer was a veteran or not. Also, I want to verify that they have mace. I mean, the department isn't springing for tasers so I wouldn't slide it past them to have cheap/nonfunctional mace or not have it at all.

  225. Grifter says

    I don't buy the "inexperience" bit, though, as an excuse. A reason, yes, but not an excuse.

    To give an example from my neck of the woods: As a paramedic, I was scared pantsless when I started. I had a class, then I had ride-along time. These were all to prevent me from making a catastrophic mistake, and to give me time to make little mistakes before throwing me out alone with life and death in my hands. If I made a catastrophic mistake due to fear, even on day one solo in the field, and killed someone, then I would not be fit to be a paramedic.

    In this case, I believe that while it is "just a dog" the officer still acted out of fear, and didn't think through the consequences of his actions while using lethal force. That is a big deal to me, and not something I can give a "pass" on, even with inexperience.

  226. Gavin says

    It doesn't have to be fear. As far as I'm concerned it may have been a cold and calculated decision in which the officer decided that him not being injured was more important than this animal's life. While I would personally have chosen other methods I really can't blame him for that.

    The officer probably saw this as the quickest and safest way to… um… "dispatch" the problem from a distance and took it. It hopefully would have been a different choice if it was a person.

  227. Grifter says


    Your earlier defenses of the officer were based on him making a mistake "in the heat of the moment". If it was a calculated decision, there is no excuse whatsoever.

    Even if we ignore the dog's life and just call it property (which I think we both agree is going a bit too far the other way), I would expect better from an officer, when he has multiple ways of dealing with an issue that don't destroy a person's property, and goes with the "destroy" option. That's a bad decision born out of what, laziness is the new thought on your part? "This is easier, so fuck it?"

  228. Gavin says


    A dog is trying to attack me.
    I prefer not to get bitten.
    Hey, I bet this gun will keep me from being bitten.


    Most "property" doesn't try to attack you.

  229. Grifter says


    Just to be clear, you think "too lazy to use an alternative" is an okay argument? Because that's totally different than the one you've used thus far.

  230. Gavin says


    I've said many times that he may not have felt confident enough to use close range combat weaponry. The gun was the easiest and swiftest way to dispatch the threat.

    You say lazy, I say cautious. But we are both just guessing here since we still haven't figured out a way to get into someone's mind.

    Against a person with a knife, officers don't have to use clubs. They can use guns and I dont' think protecting themselves with lethal force against lethal force is any problem.

    Here though, it's an animal attacking. Our laws would allow you to stab a Bald Eagle in the face if it was attacking you. The idea is that your well being is worth more than an animals life and I agree with that. I see very little difference in killing an animal that is attacking you and killing an animal to eat its meat. Both are done for a specific reason.

    This guy wasn't just walking up and capping a pet trying to lick him. It was a violent (albeit violent for protective reasons) animal. What if it had percieved threat from a neighborhood girl riding her bike at the wrong time?

  231. Grifter says


    You are returning to previously refuted arguments.

    "I've said many times that he may not have felt confident enough to use close range combat weaponry". That is a point, but my response to that was and has been "that is not acceptable". If they aren't fully competent in their tools, they shouldn't be in the field alone, both because they don't know what they're using and because they can't adequately defend themselves. That is in no way a legitimate defense.

    "Against a person with a knife, officers don't have to use clubs. They can use guns and I dont' think protecting themselves with lethal force against lethal force is any problem." They don't use a gun as their first choice, nor should they. Now, if they have no other option, sure, they are allowed to use a gun. But as has been previously established in this very discussion, we would both expect them to make some attempt to not just say "someone with a knife, approaching in my direction, time to shoot!" We would expect a warning "stop or I'll shoot", etc.

    And then you come back to the "attacking" idea. The dog wasn't attacking him. We established that. The dog was approaching him, possibly to attack, in an aggressive manner that would be seen reasonably as a coming threat. Not actually attacking yet, not close enough to attack yet. And there's a reason "he's coming right for us!" is such a joke on South Park, neh?

    And then you go back to making assumptions not established. We don't know for sure the dog was going to attack him, it never got a chance. I can say he had legitimate reason to believe it was going to, and not fault him for thinking that, but your mindset is "this was a dangerous dog that was going to kill him!" no matter how many times it's been shown that there was more chance to officer would drop dead from an aneurysm than that the dog would kill him, and that there's no evidence of this dog being violent beyond a single description on one occasion that he was "charging".

    I've come to the conclusion you don't like dogs, and that if one charge at you you'd shoot it without a qualm. And that's acceptable for a private actor (if still, in my mind, dickish), but it is not acceptable for a police officer who is an agent of the government.

  232. Gavin says


    It has nothing to do with competence, it's the idea that he can definitively resolve the problem with minimal risk to himself by using a long distance weapon as self defense. Do the results not speak for themselves? Competency in a hand-to-hand weapon don't mean you come away unscathed.

    They absolutely do pull the gun if someone comes at them with a knife. Ideally they'd have a taser first though. As for demanding the person stop, if you find a way to adequately convey to a dog that you are not attacking their master and so they should stop trying to hurt you, your argument will apply. Until that day though, reason only applies to humans, concepts and some computers (but not necessarily to any of the three). If an officer is not expected to pull out the night stick with a person bearing a knife, why should they be expected to when a dog attacks?

    And for the sake of this argument all people who were actually there stated that the dog was at least in the process of attacking him. The owner herself said she'd have protected herself too, clearly indicating that he was presenting a threat that warranted defense, i.e. attacking. Unless you know someone else who was there that holds a disenting opinion then we should adhere to the idea that the dog was presenting an immediate threat. You can say that because the dog didn't actually clamp down that he was just running up to give the man doggie kisses but I think we both know what this was. It was a dog thinking his master was about to be harmed and so was absolutely attacking to defend them. Anything to the contrary is you saying you know better than the witnesses including the dog owner.

    If a dog charged me I would try to keep it away from myself, yes. I wouldn't shoot it because I find kicking or responding loudly to be effective against dogs. If it was charging someone else though, I'd do anything I could to keep it from hurting someone else but that isn't the situation here. You can write this all off as me just not liking dogs, but that's silly. I can write this off as you just inserting points of view into people who disagree with you in their words or actions. There are two examples of you doing that in this discussion now:

    1. Police defends himself by shooting a dog? "Must be an evil asshole."
    2. Guy says the police officer may just have valued his own unmangled hands over the dog's life. "Guy must hate dogs…"

    I value animal life more highly than I expect others to. Just because I would avoid seriously harming animals in any ways possible (except delicious meat animals, of course) doesn't mean I have to expect other people to. At the end of the day, this was an animal going after a human being. That's the dog's last mistake and the owner's fault for not keeping the dog at bay. You can say that you think this is subjectively wrong and that's your prerogative, it does not make it fact though.

    I've enjoyed talking with you here. I don't think there's anywhere else for the conversation to go though. I'll continue as long as you want. Perhaps if we have another few weeks we can eventually start equating the other's positions to WWII practices of a certain axis leader…

  233. Grifter says


    "They absolutely do pull the gun if someone comes at them with a knife."
    They pull the gun, but they don't immediately fire, so thanks for stating something as though it contradicted my point, while in fact helping to confirm it: they don't fire until they must.

    And while a dog cannot be "reasoned with", or warned not to approach, on the flip side, the odds of a police officer being significantly injured by a dog are, statistically, nil. We have found no deaths, and not once case has been presented even of serious injury. So I suppose I could say that, if my arguments about what was your analogy about someone charging with a knife aren't valid because people can be reasoned with, your argument that the officer feared for his life is invalid, because there are no cases of dogs killing cops. The broader point of my argument is that lethal force shouldn't be the first option, even if it is the "easiest" one. Your broader point was that even if there's statistically almost no chance of harm, there is a potential for harm.

    "And for the sake of this argument all people who were actually there stated that the dog was at least in the process of attacking him."
    NO, they didn't. You keep misquoting, I keep pointing it out, then you misquote again. No one said the words "the dog was attacking him". Find a quote that says that, please, or stop saying it because it's dishonest to do so. I've already said that to you.

    I feel we have several debates that the water gets muddy on, correct me or add to the points of contention as you see fit:

    Was the dog attacking?
    The literal answer is NO. We have discussed this. Just as, in WWII, the Japanese fleet wasn't actually attacking until the attack commenced (i.e. until it was close enough to actually do harm), the dog was still too far off to take any aggressive action against the officer, and per the witness 'The dog never jumped on him.' Thus, the dog was not attacking, but that brings us to the next point:

    Was the dog a threat?
    YES. I believe the officer could legitimately say "I feel this dog was planning to attack me once it got close enough to do so, and is therefore a threat to my safety unless I can defuse the situation before the attack commences."

    Was lethal force warranted?
    NO. The officer had other means at his disposal (including retreat, even though you keep trying to say that it wasn't an option…it was an option. He was near the curb, and I think it is a safe assumption to think he had a squad car, so you'll need to give me a reason he couldn't get into it before I agree retreat isn't an option). Any time an officer has other means at his disposal that will be equally effective, and he doesn't use them, that means that he either: can't use them effectively (is incompetent), or CHOSE not to use them (is lazy and/or evil, because lethal force should never be option A).

  234. Grifter says

    I think (and correct me if I'm wrong), but that it is your position that if any defense is warranted, that equates to lethal force being warranted, even if there is another option that would work just as well.

    I also feel like you also do not hold the police to any higher standard than the average citizen.

    That is where we break down, and if it is those two points, specifically, then I'm fine "agreeing to disagree", but it is on those points that we break down.

    I do hold the police to a higher standard. And I do believe that you are morally obligated to use the least amount of force necessary to defuse a threat. I believe a private citizen can be given more leeway for "overkill" because, of course, there is no competency requirement to live in this country.

    To give a hypothetical example:

    An apparently unarmed hobo shouts unintelligible obscenities, and starts screaming and running towards a person. The person shoots when the hobo gets close, killing the hobo.

    If that person is a private citizen I might say "wow, did you not even see a weapon? That's a little harsh", but I would have sympathy for the "I didn't know what else to do and I was protecting myself" argument.

    If that person is a police officer, I have no sympathy. I say "Did you see a weapon? Why didn't you dodge/flee, or use a nightstick or a taser or your pepper spray?"

  235. Gavin says

    In response to the first point, I think if force is warranted regarding an animal then I think the kind of force is ultimately up to the individual in danger. You and I think he should have used anything other than lethal force, but we're coming from a subjective standpoint, not an objective absolute. Why do we get to say how an officer must respond to an animal threat? How is our morality somehow superior to his?

    When an officer's own safety is on the line I do not place them at a higher standard. Just because someone wears a badge doesn't mean that they have to place themselves in needless harm. That's why we have swat members and military. Police are taught to maintain their safety at all time. Why should he be held at a higher standard when an animal is attacking him? Yes, they have direct protocol for responding to human threats (one that this particular department recently failed at), but I don't feign to impose my value of animals on this individual. That being said, as an officer I'd have tried to kiss the dog, maybe expose my throat a little just hiding the juglar so I would get an epic amount of paid time off and recup time thanks to the tax payer's dollar.

    Your hypothetical involves human life. Something we both value higher than an animal. I would be upset with both individuals in this scenario though my upsetness would change based on the specifics of the situation (example: it's a girl on the street at night just trying to get home when this happens vs. it's a drug dealer about to ask if the hobo wants anything).

    And yes, in all situations where a taser is available I think that should be the first thought. It's like having a magic tranq gun. As I've also said many times here, I place the department at fault, regardless of how I feel about this situation. Investing in a taser is investing in life. Any police department who doesn't have them should be saving up for them. Hell, do a communitee drive for them saying, "If you don't contribute we may have to shoot you one stupid drunken night".

  236. Grifter says

    So, to be clear:

    You do believe that if there is any danger, the force to be returned is entirely up to the individual. This directly contradicts the idea of "equal force".

    You do not hold the police to a higher standard the the general population. We will never, ever agree on that point, because I do. They are given guns by the state, and therefore are an extension of the state while working.

  237. Gavin says

    @Grifter, equal force applies to human interaction, not animal interaction. You can legally shoot an endangered bald eagle in the face if it is attacking you. Besides, I doubt the officer is able to bite the dog with the same force to equate equal force…

    Huh? If I don't hold police to a higher standard then it's only because I hold people to a higher standard. How does that not equate to the same thing? I generally hold the police to a higher standard when they interact with people, not animals. I don't think that officers magically lose the right to defend themselves just because they have a badge on.

    You are literally saying that if a person shot a weaponless person that you'd just think they're being dumb. You hold people to a ridiculously low standard then and then you hold police at a super-high standard. This is a double standard. Police don't cease to be people.

  238. Gavin says

    Don't get me wrong, I expect police to operate within the bounds of laws and their policies. But I don't expect them to be selfless just because they're officers. At the end of the day it's just a job and they want to go home to their families.

  239. Grifter says


    The "higher standard" to which I hold them is a standard of competence and care, neither one of which relies on the humanity of the other side.

    While I do recognize that humans are more important than animals, you should understand that if he'd shot a person under these circumstances (a person running towards him with an aggressive manner, but no warning, no attempt at de-escalation, the first option being pull gun out, pull trigger), I'd be saying he should be arrested. Here, I am not saying that, but I am still saying he shouldn't be a cop and has committed a moral wrong.

  240. Gavin says


    But that is a red herring. He did not shoot a human. The "IF" clause doesn't matter. He prevented himself from being bitten by an animal by shooting it. We have no qualms with this regarding any animals in the wild, why does it being a pet magically make it different? Some people own tigers as pets, and they're endangered, but I wouldn't think twice about someone shooting it in the face if it approached them in any aggressive manner.

    The dog isn't going to be able to kill the cop, but it can certainly harm him. 320lbs of pressure is enough to ruin your week for sure (I don't know where people get 3500lbs, that'd be enough to ruin your life, like someone threw a car at you). It's just more than half that of a lion or shark (600lbs).

    As long as the officer is following laws and officer protocol then he is doing his job. This idea that an officer has to be sacrificial beyond the scope of duty is just putting unfair demands on what is just a job.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty unhappy with the police force altogether. But sometimes I just have to take a step back and think about what it's like to be a human in all these situations. I may have done something different, but I would not force that one someone else.

  241. Gavin says

    I guess my ultimate question is why you get to decide why this particular act of self defense is a great moral sin? If a person with a knife charged him he could have shot him before he ever got to the officer and he'd only have to go through officer counseling just as standard proceedure, not because of any ill-action.

    The only two differences in this as far as I can tell is that the "offender" was an animal and the officer couldn't warn the dog in any rational way that he had the upper hand (via Mr. Boomy Spark Spark Handgun Extrodinaire. *gasp* That's twice the spark!).

  242. Grifter says


    You brought humans in in the first place, I was trying to provide context, not a red herring.

    Officers are rarely severely disciplined for shootings, so to say he would have been just officer counseled is not a particularly strong point.

    The point here is that, from my perspective:

    It appears (barring new evidence) that the officer had other options, and chose not to use them. Now, it may come out that what he did was the best option for the circumstances, who knows what other info could come out. But if you accept for the sake of this discussion my premise that he did have other viable responses, that implies either:
    A) conscious choice to not use other, nonlethal mans, or
    B) callous disregard of even considering other, nonlethal means, or
    C) total thought breakdown from fear.

    None of those are acceptable from a police officer. The only time I want lethal force used in my name is when it is the clearly best option. If an officer is not competent enough to be absolutely certain it is the best option before pulling the trigger, he shouldn't be pulling the trigger.

    It may turn out to be D) lethal force was the best and only viable option, with consideration of other options. From my vantage point, that does not appear to be the case, hence my list of ABC. I find none of those acceptable; I feel you keep trying to defend on grounds that it might have been D, and I will grant that, obviously, if it was D), he's not a bad person. But if it was any of my other ABCs, then he is a bad police officer who should not have a badge, and he has committed an ethical wrong.

    There is always an ethical obligation to consider nonlethal means.

  243. Gavin says


    I brought humans in as contrast. If an officer can shoot a man with a knife charging him, then the officer can sure as heck shoot a dog charging him.

    There is an ethical obligation to consider nonlethal means, but the outcome of that consideration is non-standard. Was that dog's life worth him battling it mano a dogo at the risk of him being badly bitten? You and I may think so, but why do we get to insist that he value the dogs life as highly as his leg working properly?

  244. Grifter says

    @Gavin: Well, 1, the odds of permanent loss of leg use are very slim, and 2, we have that right because we gave him the gun (well, not us two, but the Public), and we give him extra rights other "regular people" don't have. So I damn well want to have input on how he uses it. If he were off-duty, this would be a non-starter discussion.