Carroll County, MD — A very graphic and hard to watch video has surfaced prompting backlash toward the Carroll County Sheriff’s office in Maryland after it showed one of their deputies shoot and kill a tiny ground hog.
According to the department spokesperson, Cpl. Jon Light, the deputy stopped and killed the ground hog because it was ‘acting oddly.’
To be entirely fair, many times animals become rabid and need to be put down as they pose a danger to the public. Many times, police officers are the ones who need to do this as it is often required of their duties. However, according to the department, it was unclear if the groundhog posed such danger as there had been no reports of it biting anyone or if it was rabid.
The incident happened on Sunday around 4 p.m. after the deputy stopped traffic in the middle of the highway to deal with the groundhog.
Justyna Olkowska witnessed the encounter while driving home from work in Sykesville, and posted a video of it on Facebook that has been viewed over 78,000 times.
The video, which has since been censored by Facebook, was posted with the following caption.
This just happened. And I’m soooo distraught!!!! Like I cannot believe I just witnessed this. If you’re not an animal lover, you won’t understand my pain… ???? Liberty rd. Sykesville Police shooting Grundhogs in a head in broad daylight. Please share. I may be wrong and he might have been doing his job but all I kept thinking was what if my little niece and nephew were in the car with me seeing this..
As the video begins, Olkowska was filming and laughing as the groundhog appeared to want to go in the officers direction. However, the laughter quickly turned into horror as the officer took aim and shot it.
“You see the groundhog coming after the officer. At this point in time, the animal was not acting as a normal animal would. It is within our policy to dispose of any animal that could pose a health threat,” Light said.
Indeed, it does appear that the groundhog was heading toward the officer. However, it is also entirely possible that it had been separated from its offspring—which were possibly located behind the deputy—and was trying to get to them.
“It started out as a cute encounter where I thought he was trying to help the little fella,” said Olkowska, who lives in Pikesville. “I obviously did not think that it would take this turn and was kind of shocked. I am sure the officer did the best thing in this situation. It is not for me to judge.”
While the Free Thought Project has reported on numerous instances of police officers killing animals, in our many years at it, we’ve never seen a cop kill a groundhog.
However, we have seen police officers shooting kittens in front of children. According to the North Ridgeville Police Department in Ohio, the police did nothing wrong when they discharged their weapons a few feet away from children in order to euthanize 5 kittens in 2013.
Also, last year, Matt Minnick, a small farmer in Portland, learned the hard way about police killing animals after a Washington County Sheriff’s Office Deputy feared for his life and shot and killed his top breeding goat—an animal that fills petting zoos across the world.
In 2015, another Washington County Sheriff’s Office Deputy shot and killed a 30-year-old pony, leaving a family heartbroken. The department was then caught covering up what really happened.