Buffalo, NY — Frequent readers of TFTP know too well how many beloved family pets are gunned down every year by public servants in the U.S. It happens so much that there is a term for it called "puppycide." We have an endless archive of stories in which dogs meet their untimely ends at the end of a cop's gun.
According to an unofficial count done by an independent research group, Ozymandias Media, a dog is shot by law enforcement every 98 minutes. That number could be higher too as many of the cases never make the media reports.
One cop in Buffalo has apparently made it his mission to make sure that rate stays as high as possible — that cop is Detective Joseph M. Cook.
Cook was the subject of a recently settled lawsuit against the Buffalo police department after they raided the home of Adam Arroyo back in 2013. According to the lawsuit, police were looking for alleged drug activity that day. When they raided the home, however, they found no such drugs but they did find Arroyo's dog, Cindy.
The lawsuit states that Cindy was leashed up in the kitchen while Arroyo was at work when the raid took place. Arroyo explained that she had been getting bored when he was out and tore up some furniture, so he put her on a leash that day.
During the entirely fruitless and pointless raid, detective Cook found Cindy in the kitchen and shot her three times at point blank range, killing her. Cook maintains that the dog was off the leash when he confronted her but the settlement and Cook's history tell a completely different story.
During the deposition in Arroyo's lawsuit, Cook admitted that in just a three year period, this officer shot 26 dogs — killing all but one of them. This shocking number means that for three years, this officer shot a dog every six weeks.
Perhaps killing one or two dogs in your career every few years during the execution of search warrants is justified. However, there is absolutely no way that killing a dog every 6 weeks is necessary. It could be alleged that shooting and killing so many dogs means that Cook likely enjoys it. A disturbing notion indeed.
Apparently the city agreed which is why Arroyo received a record settlement for the death of his dog.
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Matthew Albert, who filed Arroyo’s federal lawsuit, said he knows of no other case involving the shooting of a dog, or of detectives allegedly raiding the wrong house, settling for close to $110,000 in Buffalo.
The fact that an officer has shot 26 dogs in such a short period without raising any red flags hints at how big of an unreported problem this could be. In fact, TFTP has reported on the Buffalo department and their tendency to kill dogs before.
This disturbing trend led to WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, filing a Freedom of Information Act request for use of force incidents within the Buffalo police department. What they found was shocking.
According to use of force reports requested by WGRZ-TV under the Freedom of Information Law, Buffalo Police shot 92 dogs from Jan. 1, 2011 through Sept. 2014. Seventy-three of those dogs died. Nineteen survived. This is just one department.
Amazingly enough, pizza delivery drivers and postal workers don't seem to have much of a problem interacting with dogs, and they are in the same situation that police are in, going to a stranger's house with no clue what to expect. In fact, these delivery workers actually knock on more strange doors and encounter more dogs in just a week than many police officers do in their entire careers.
UPS workers accidentally made this point quite clear with a Facebook page showing delivery drivers having fun with dogs. In the meantime, cops continue to kill and are almost never held accountable.
Something has to be done and it is far more than just training. The most effective action that would need to be taken would be to drastically reduce the instance of no-knock search warrants. According to an ACLU report, 62 percent of SWAT raids are searches for drugs.
If we want to end puppycide, we have to end the drug war, the two are not mutually exclusive.