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Raleigh PD Seeks Ways to Improve Handling of Animal Calls

Posted January 10, 2007

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— With their wagging tails, their panting tongues and their hopeful eyes, the dogs at the SPCA adoption center in Raleigh are four-legged advertisements for the phrase "man's best friend."

People who work with the animals say even the most docile animal can be unpredictable, however.

"Don't assume any animal is vicious or safe," said Hope Hancock, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County. "You need to read the body language, talk to the owner."

Hancock says the key to staying safe around dogs is proper training.

That's why the SPCA chapter helped the High Point Police Department train officers on how to handle dog calls. Hancock says she is pleased that the city of Raleigh is now looking at improving how officers respond to animal calls.

The move comes after a Raleigh police officer shot and injured a dog on Christmas Day when he was responding to a call about a bite involving a different dog at the same house. An internal investigation into the incident is ongoing, but  the city is looking at making changes. The dog, a Labrador retriever named Truman, is recovering from his wound.

"This is a catalyst, I think, to enhance education and to learn from this particular incident," Hancock said.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker asked the city manager this week to brief city leaders on ways to improve how officers respond to these calls.

"Well, there are really two things: One is to have an animal control officer available in the evening, as well as during the day, should there be a call of this nature; and secondly, to review whether additional or different training should be given to the police officers," Meeker said.

Changing the schedules of animal control officers to work more nights, weekend hours and holidays is already under way. Currently, they work only daytime shifts.

Raleigh police already train officers, both in the academy and once they are on the street, about how to handle animal calls, but they are looking at possibly expanding or improving the training.

"No one involved in (the Christmas Day shooting incident) would have wanted it to end the way it did," Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said. "So, we're going to make sure that another similar situation doesn't end this way."

The Christmas Day shooting was one of three that have come to light in the region in the past month. Earlier this week in Roanoke Rapids, an officer fatally wounded a dog after shooting it six times. On Tuesday, a deputy shot a German Shepherd in Cumberland County . The dog is doing OK.

In all three cases, the officers involved said they felt like they were in danger.
12 Comments

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  • mtadish Jan 11, 2007

    The Police messed this up bad and should be ashamed of themselves. I'd protect my dog with my life.

  • hollylama Jan 11, 2007

    Animal control officers work for the PD, obviously they need to have people full time.

  • St Ives Jan 11, 2007

    My animals are part of my family. I would be greatly distressed if one of them was harmed for any reason. As a commumity we need to come up with a right way to handle dog calls. If a dog is agreesive, maybe the best course is to ask the owner to sercure it before entering. Phone call can do that or even a step back on the front porch until animal is taken out of harms way. The key is to remain cool, something police are suposed to be good at

  • geowilrlst Jan 11, 2007

    Hey folks , the cop had his pepper spray and that would have given him enough time to remove himself from the perceived threat !

  • ifcdirector Jan 10, 2007

    I think what everyone is missing here is the fact that this officer put himself and the family in that home and the entire neighborhood in far greater danger by firing a 10MM round out of his pistol in a residential neighborhood on a front porch where he was unannounced. He is lucky that no one was hit including himself from return fire from inside the house. I am far more concerned about the potential for the loss of human life here. A police officer has several levels of force available including pepper spray. No one can tell me that possibly being nipped by a tied up lab would justify firing a high powered pistol under these circumstances. I have had them banging on my door at 6 am for incredibly petty things as well in the past and even that's not a safe practice let alone shooting on someones porch completely unannounced.

  • hsheppard88 Jan 10, 2007

    Bradfordfamilyus: You're exactly right. If the cop in this case is typical, police can't even do their jobs correctly now -- adding more equipment ain't gonna help! It's the operators, not the equipment.

  • mt1190 Jan 10, 2007

    bradfordfamilyus -at- yahoo -dot- com
    AND EXTRA PEICE OF EQUIPMENT TO CARRY IS IN NO WAY COMPAIRABLE TO AN ANIMALS LIFE . MY TAX DOLLARS ARE NOT FOR HOT HEADED TRIGER HAPPY NEWBIES WHO THINK THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW . PERIOD IF YOU ALL ARE SO UNHAPPY WITH ADDING MORE WORK TO YOUR PLATES THAN BRING ANIMAL CONTROL WITH YOU THERES IS AN IDEA I THINK SHOLD BE PUT INTO PLAY. WITH ALL DO RESPECT ANIMIALS AND PEOPLE SHOULD BE ONE IN THE SAME AND TREATED WITH THE SAME AMOUNT OF RESPECT I DONT CARE WHAT ANYONE SAYS . HOW COULD A COP FIRE AT A BOY BEFORE HE OPENED THE DOOR AND HOW COULD A COP FIRE AT A DOG THAT IS TIED UP . DO YOU SEE WHERE IM GOING WITH THIS? FOR SOME POLICE OFFICERS I HAVE THE UPMOST RESPECT HOWEVER IN CASES LIKE THESE I ZERO RESPECT FOR. INFACT IM NOT SURE HOW I WOULD REACT IF A POLICE OFFICER SHOT OR HARMED MY ANIMALS IN ANYWAY.

  • superman Jan 10, 2007

    the officer was investigating a call involving a dog bite-- so what u think he might be looking for when he arrives at the house? perhaps the same dog ready to attack him? I am not afraid of dogs but if my neighbor just told me his dog attacked him-- i would be a little apprehensive about approaching him i say the officer did the right think under the circumstances and the report he was responding to.

  • bleth Jan 10, 2007

    In my best opinion, having followed the story. I really believe the officer who responded to the home and shot the lab. I think the shooting was motivated by fear. Fear of an animal; especially dogs. Fear is deeply rooted in the psyche back to the days of early man. See a wolf and run or battle. Thats the choices. Perhaps to minimize the contact between officers who are afraid of dogs a questionaire should be part of the basic officer training. Ask what fears are and test the candidates with fear triggers. Put officers in safe role-play situations where they can go through actions of a response to a call. The public could be very good involved with this. Officers far to often have little dealings with the public until they are tossed into it once they have a badge. Sink or swim --- fear and shoot.
    Training is everything. More training and a allied community to the police department is a winning situation for all involved.

  • rc25 Jan 10, 2007

    I'd like to know who gave REX hospital the right to call the RPD? Who gave the RPD the right to go to the house? If you have a shooting victim or an auto accident victim, the police comes to thehospital to talk to the victim. Why is that not SOP for dog bites? And shouldn't the OWNERS of the house be asked for permission for these actions to be taken? If I go
    to the hospital because my son accidentally shot me while cleaning his gun, are they(REX) going to call the police to go to my house and shoot my son unbenounced to me? What happened to our CIVIL RIGHTS?

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