Weslaco, TX — Americans, it seems, are increasingly becoming desensitized to police violence — to the point that unarmed fathers being gunned down in front of their children barely registers as a blip on the nightly news radar. According to newspaper editors, however, “stories about animal abuse often generate more responses from upset readers than articles about violence directed toward humans.” Reports from police agencies support the claim that “shooting a dog brings more heat down on an agency than an officer-involved shooting of a human.”
One would think that because the stigma associated with police officers shooting dogs is often worse than police officers killing people, that cops would try to shoot fewer dogs. However, as a recent case out of Weslaco, TX shows us, one would be wrong.
Manuel Garcia was sitting at the dinner table with his family Sunday afternoon when they were frightened by the sound of two gunshots in their front yard. When Garcia opened the door to see what was going on, he saw a Weslaco police officer pointing a gun at his dog who was bleeding out just a few feet from their front door.
The Weslaco cop had killed their dog.
“It’s like losing a family member, you know,” Garcia said. “He got shot and they wouldn’t let me take him to the hospital.”
Gator, the family's beloved pit bull was not loose roaming the streets. He was inside Garcia's yard, entirely enclosed by a fence, with clearly posted "Beware of Dog" signs all around it.
However, the fence, the signs, the barking — none of this mattered to the officer who decided to trespass into the family's property to tell them their truck was parked the wrong way on the street.
As KRGV reports, the street the family lives on is a two-way, with no room for parking in the front. Garcia’s cars are parked in the back. On Sunday, Garcia said his truck was parked in front.
“He said we were illegally parked, that he was going to ask us to move the truck,” he said.
So, the cop ignored every one of the signs, walked into the yard and killed the family pet.
“He’s like the dog attacked me and I said, ‘He’s doing his job,’” Garcia said. “He never sounded his horn, he didn’t put his siren, he didn’t use his microphone. He didn’t try to reach us, he didn’t rattle the fence,” he said.
Naturally, the department is standing behind their officer's actions. They noted that the officer entering the property with 'beware of dog' signs all around and killing the family pet — was all within department policy.
The department released the following statement this week:
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On Sunday April 9, 2017 at approximately 3:00 p.m. Weslaco Police responded to the area of 200 E. Pike Blvd in reference to an improperly parked vehicle. The on scene Officer observed a vehicle parked on top of the sidewalk facing traffic. The Officer approached the gated residence and made entry through the unlocked front gate. Once inside the property the Officer observed a large, gray Pitbull running towards him. In the Officers attempt to kick the dog it became more aggressive and bit down on the front portion of the Officers boot. It was at this time the Officer feared for his safety and discharged two rounds from his service weapon striking the dog.
Garcia said that he is not taking any chances next time and has since put a lock on his gate.
In the land of the free, police can come onto your private property to tell you your truck is parked incorrectly, kill your dog in front of your family, and this is called 'standard procedure.' Well, it's a damn good thing that — postal workers, delivery truck drivers, pizza delivery drivers, and all the other jobs that require people to go to someone's home and NOT KILL THEIR DOG — don't claim the same rights as cops, or family pets would probably be extinct.
Sadly, this trend shows no signs of slowing.
The Department of Justice estimates that at least 25 dogs are killed by police every day.
The Puppycide Database Project estimates the number of dogs being killed by police to be closer to 500 dogs a day(which translates to 182,000 dogs a year).
Because not all police departments keep track of canine shootings, these numbers vary widely. However, whatever the final body count, what we’re dealing with is an epidemic of vast proportions.
Incredibly, in 1 out of 5 cases involving police shooting a family pet, a child was either in the police line of fire or in the immediate area of a shooting.
The so-called “dangerous” breeds of dogs aren’t the only ones that are being killed in encounters with police either.
Journalist Radley Balko has documented countless “dog shootings in which a police officer said he felt ‘threatened’ and had no choice but to use lethal force, including the killing of a Dalmatian (more than once), a yellow Lab , a springer spaniel, a chocolate Lab, a boxer, an Australian cattle dog, a Wheaten terrier, an Akita… a Jack Russell terrier… a 12-pound miniature dachshund… [and] a five-pound chihuahua.”