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Shelby, OH — Shelby police are under fire for the way they dispatched a suspected rabies-infected raccoon. Police are often called to respond to animal versus man encounters, but most of our reporting shows our boys in blue killing animals with guns instead of their patrol cars. Nonetheless, it’s the way in which cops killed the raccoon which has both cop apologists and cop accountability activists up in arms.

Shelby cops were captured on video running over the animal leaving the raccoon flailing about. Recording the law enforcement vehicle was a bystander who noticed the cops missed hitting the animal on the second pass. He quickly told the cops they missed. Then, the cops backed their SUV over the raccoon and then forward again to finish the critter.

It’s unclear if any testing was done to confirm the raccoon was, indeed, infected. At any rate, the cops simply cannot win with their critics. Cop supporters stand behind their actions saying to run over the animal was safer than discharging their weapons in public with houses and bystanders around.

Critics of law enforcement decry the officers’ actions as simply cruel to the animal saying something else should have been done to safely dispatch the animal without the cruelty of running it over three times with an automobile.

Indeed, running it over to euthanize the raccoon would have been a viable solution except for the delay in coming back to finish it off. The images of the raccoon writhing about in the street are utterly horrifying and likely could've been prevented, had they just backed up over it the first time.

The Shelby Police Department responded to the outcry with a statement of its own:

On Wednesday, 11-13-19, at approximately 5:00 in the afternoon, the Shelby Police Department received two calls from citizens regarding a sick or rabid raccoon in the roadway on Second St. One caller was concerned that children were messing with the raccoon and would be bitten. Upon arrival, the responding officer observed that the animal was clearly sick or injured and staggering in the roadway.

After noticing the animal was most likely sickly, according to the statement, the decision to kill the animal was made but noted it was simply unsafe to dispatch the animal with a firearm:

The officer determined that the animal needed to be destroyed. Because of the time of day and being in a residential area, he did not feel it was safe to destroy the animal with a firearm.

Choosing not to shoot was a good idea as we've seen innocent men, women, and children get shot by cops attempting to kill animals. Responding to criticisms the animal control should have been contacted, the statement addressed the issue:

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Neither Shelby nor Richland County have an “animal control” department, nor do we have the training or equipment to capture a potentially rabid animal, that would ultimately need to be destroyed regardless. The officer made a judgement call to destroy the animal with his vehicle.

Addressing the gruesome nature of seeing an animal intentionally get run over the Shelby Police Department said it had to take action to dispatch the animal or the overall welfare of the community would be at risk. Also stated were plans to have the carcass tested for rabies:

​The actions in the video are certainly unpleasant to watch. However, leaving a sick or injured animal in a situation that could be dangerous to the public especially to children that had already been seen near the animal, the officer chose to side with public safety and to destroy the animal as quickly as possible, without endangering the public. The animal was picked up by Shelby Fire and disposed of. I ordered the carcass retrieved and secured and will be working with the Shelby Health Department to see if any testing can be done to determine if the animal was sick.

Since the video was published to Facebook, the chief has responded by saying "I believe we can do better."

Chief of Shelby Police Lance Combs said the department is requesting an outside agency, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office, to conduct an investigation into whether the officer involved should face criminal charges.

As a result of the incident, Combs said the department is enacting several new policies on how to handle sick or injured animals.

  • City vehicles will not be used to euthanize sick or injured animals.
  • Pole snares have been ordered to catch animals and bring them to a safe location to “dispatch” with a firearm.
  • Wildlife officials will provide training to better recognize animal behavior and illnesses.

The Shelby Police Department defended its handling of the raccoon killing by stating there were 140 animal calls last year. It’s a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. What do you think the officer should have done in this situation? Let us know in the comments below.

Below is a partial video of the killing, if you want to watch the full horrific video, you can do so at the Facebook link, here.