The Russ Belville Show

Tank – Shotgunned in the face by Detroit Police while locked in a pen (Photo: MotorCityMuckraker)

I really try to maintain respect for law enforcement even in the face of the continued assault on the civil liberties of myself and 26.1 million other Americans who like to use marijuana.

But every story of canicide (murder of dogs) by cop I have to cover erodes that respect. Too often I read a local newspaper’s all-too-common tale of police using SWAT tactics to serve marijuana arrest warrants where cops deliberately and perhaps gleefully hunt down people’s beloved family pets and slaughter them, not for fear of any personal danger but to “secure the premises”, which translated means, “scare the shit out of the marijuana user with shock and awe through terrorism and bloodshed”.

The latest is this story from Detroit.  James Woods, a poor handyman, is raided by Detroit Police.  “Please don’t harm my dogs,” he screams but soon a 12-gauge shotgun blast is heard as Detroit Police shoot his pit bull, Tank, in the face.

Tank had been confined behind a fence in his dog run and was no threat to the police whatsoever.

Knowing his other two dogs were still in the house, a small old pit bull named Janey and a German Shepard mix named Hump, Woods cries out, “Please! They won’t hurt you! Stop chasing them! They’re just scared.”

So the police chased down both of the dogs as they were running away, all throughout the house until the cops shot them both in the back from the rear.  Janey was shot four times as she tried to get away, smearing a trail of blood throughout the house until she finally collapsed and died.

This is such a common occurrence that there are Facebook pages dedicated to memorializing all the canines killed by cops, usually in the service of drug warrants, which the majority are for marijuana.  This Huffington Post story goes into great detail on the issue and asks why cops can’t be as well-trained to deal with dogs in a non-lethal manner as postal workers?

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.

Contrast that to the U.S. Postal Service, another government organization whose employees regularly come into contact with pets. A Postal Service spokesman said in a 2009 interview  that serious dog attacks on mail carriers are extremely rare. That’s likely because postal workers are annually shown a two-hour video and given further training on “how to distract dogs with toys, subdue them with voice commands, or, at worst, incapacitate them with Mace.”

I’ll tell you why: it’s because the killing of the dog is seen by many of these cops as a justifiable punishment for a “dirty doper”.  In this video raid, the cop says, “When you deal dope, and the police have to come to your house, that’s what happens.”

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