Round Rock, TX -- According to an unofficial count done by Ozymandias Media, an independent research group, a dog is shot by law enforcement every 98 minutes.
In an investigative report, it was discovered that a single police department in Buffalo, NY, shot 92 dogs in less than three years. In Southwest Florida, the News-Press discovered 111 instances of dog shootings among multiple agencies between 2009 and 2012, representing about 37 per year. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Police shot approximately 90 dogs per year between 2008 and 2013.
It is an undisputed fact that cops frequently kill dogs.
One heroic cop in Round Rock, Texas, however, shattered that paradigm by showing true courage when he was bitten by a family dog.
According to KVUE,
Geoffrey Wightman was at home with his 4-year-old son and mother-in-law when he called police to report a disturbance in his neighborhood. During the call, he said he told the dispatcher that there was a dog at his home.
"She [the dog] is an Australian Shepherd, and she's really protective of the family," Wightman said.
According to the reports, the dispatcher sent out officer Randall Frederick, who responded earlier than expected. His early arrival did not allow Wightman to put their dog, Jillaroo, out of the way.
When Frederick knocked at the door, Wightman's 4-year-old son ran to answer it. That's when Jillaroo went into protective mode.
"The dog immediately jumped between him and the officer, and that's when it was a little bit nerve-racking, because I was watching the dog bite him," Wightman said.
Jillaroo tore into the officer's leg twice, piercing the skin.
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At this point, 999 cops out of 1,000 would have likely pulled out their pistol and shot this dog, and all 999 of them would have been justified by their departments. But Frederick did something else, he showed compassion instead of violent escalation. He began to calm the dog down and showed Jillaroo that he was not a threat to the boy.
Round Rock Police Cmdr. Jim Stuart explained that Frederick was applying their newly adopted tactics of how to deescalate rather than kill.
"We talk about different ways to approach animals, to try and keep them from being aggressive towards officers. And if they do get aggressive, [we talk about] how to deescalate that," Stuart said.
"It's scary to think how differently that could have happened, but the level of training in his reaction was spot on," Wightman said.
After controversy arose in May of last year, when a Round Rock cop shot and killed a Rottweiler named Bullet inside a home, the department surprisingly took proactive measures.
It seems that Bullet's death was not in vain, as out of that tragedy came some good. Our hearts go out to Bullet's owners, and nothing will bring back their dog. But perhaps his family can take solace in knowing that Bullet's death led to countless other dogs living.
After Bullet's tragic puppycide, all Round Rock police officers were put through a mandatory eight-hour training period with an experienced dog trainer to learn how to handle situations involving aggressive animals, according to KVUE.
Since then, residents have also been proactive in their community by working with police to prevent their dogs from being shot. Police and residents participate in a program called BARK, which stands for Be Aware of Residential K9s. Over 1,000 households have registered, and their houses are clearly labeled to alert officers to the presence of a family pet.
It is this type of ardent reaction from police to the concerns of the community that will undoubtedly lead to positive change. In fact, Jillaroo is proof that it works and it shows that a little training goes a long way.
As divide continues to grow between the police and the policed, the only thing that will repair that divide are steps like this one. Share this story with your friends and family to show them how communication and proactive community support is paramount to fostering peace and the preservation of life.