By STEFANO BLOCH and DANIEL E. MARTÍNEZ
As the conversation around excessive police force has pushed the country to consider novel and drastic reforms in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the widespread protests that followed, there is one area that has yet to gain widespread attention. Given the horrific brutality witnessed in Floyd’s murder and other cases of black, brown, and poor people being killed by police officers, it’s understandable that law enforcement killings of pets has yet to become a major issue. Still, it is worth considering what these killings can teach us and what we might do about them. Ultimately police killings of pet dogs only further demonstrate the racial disparities in police violence and the need for reform.
The reality of dog deaths at the hand of police says far more about how humans are over-policed than about dogs per se. The realities of shootings associated with and at dogs reveal one of the insidious and rarely acknowledged manifestations of state violence enacted in and on vulnerable communities of color.
Moving beyond the sensational media stories and activist accounts of “puppycide” that put the number of dog killings by cops at more than 10,000 annually, we recently looked at the data on officer-involved shootings obtained from the third and fourth largest police agencies in the country. While we found the percentage of dog-related officer-involved shootings to be extraordinary, the overall number of dog shootings were lower than what has been cited in publications ranging from the Atlantic to Police Magazine, numbers based on a gross estimate provided by Laura Mathews, a special assistant with the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. To be sure, dog deaths at the hands of police do regularly occur, with the online posting of countless graphic videos — many of which include scenes of violence also being directed at humans—offering further evidence of the problem.
But as our analysis of the data on officer-involved shootings reveals, between 2010 and 2016, Los Angeles Police Department officers were involved in 417 shootings, with dogs being shot in more than a quarter of cases. For the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, whose officers were involved in 406 incidents between 2010 and 2017, dogs were shot 45.6 percent of the time. More alarming than the number of dogs being shot by police is where dogs are killed by police, as we discuss in a recent study.
Read more here; https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/07/cops-shooting-dogs-police-violence-racism.html‘