Burberry, a 6-year-old Pit Bull, worked with children with Down syndrome as well as with his dog dad, Ian Anderson of Pacific Beach, Calif., to help them through rough times.
The therapy dog was always there “to put [his head] on your lap and you know everything is going to be okay. There’s just no way to explain the bond,” Anderson told NBC 7.
But Burberry is no longer around to work his magic. When two police officers responding to a domestic disturbance call knocked on Anderson’s door — apparently the wrong address — early Sunday morning, Burberry began barking. Anderson told NBC 7 he let Burberry outside, where he stopped barking.
In a surveillance video, one of the officers can even be seen patting Burberry’s head.
“The other officer yelled and screamed at the dog for no reason to get inside,” Anderson said. “It startled the dog.”
In the video, Burberry can be seen running and jumping at the other officer, who was running backwards. The officer shot Burberry in the head, instantly killing him.
“The preservation of life is our top priority and this includes the lives of animals,” the San Diego Police Department said in a statement. “This incident is currently being investigated as any Officer Involved Shooting would be to assure proper procedures were followed. Any further comments prior to the completion of the investigation would simply be premature.”
NBC 7 reporter Omari Fleming said he talked to several people in the neighborhood who knew Burberry. All of them said he was “such a cool dog.”
“I have known this dog since it was little … This dog would never hurt a fly!!!!” wrote Nicole Jacobs in a comment on the NBC 7 story. “My heart is broken. Burberry was amazing!”
Training Cops Not to Shoot Dogs
San Diego AWOL (Animals Worthy of Life) is a non-profit organization that trains police officers in an effort to reduce the number of dogs killed. “There seems to be no question here that this incident did not have to happen,” it wrote on its Facebook page today.
“Our organization has been in conversation with the San Diego Police Department for over 16 months to get them into our TOTALLY FREE Safe Dog Encounter Training. As yet they have not seen the importance of this training for their agency.”
In response to the shocking, viral 2013 video of a Hawthorne, Calif., police officer shooting a Rottweiler named Max as his owner begged him not to, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) began offering the class “Dog Behavior for Law Enforcement” to all police departments in California. Hawthorne police officers took the class in January.
“When an officer shoots a pet dog, it is traumatic for the officer, the animal and the community — something we want to mitigate as much as is possible,” spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein said in a press release.
It is also, of course, extremely traumatic for the dog’s owner. Anderson is waiting for the San Diego Police Department to return Burberry’s body to him, so he can give his beloved dog a proper burial.
“He was the best dog in the entire world,” Anderson told NBC 7. “I would do anything to have him back right now. Absolutely anything.”
Anderson has created a “Justice for Burberry” Facebook page, and an online petition has been started that asks for nationwide police training in animal behavior.
Photo via Twitter