Disturbing details have emerged about the shooting of an injured dog Monday by two officers from the Alton, Ill., police department.
Buster, a 14-year-old Pit Bull who’d escaped from his yard, had apparently been hit by a car and was limping outside a Family Dollar store. Two women saw him and called animal control.
Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, the city of Alton let its one animal control officer go last week. Starting Monday, its police department took over those duties, even though the officers had no training in how to deal with animals.
The two police officers who arrived coaxed Baxter into their squad car using lunch meat, according to Susie Marburger and other witnesses. At a packed Alton city council meeting last night, Marburger said Buster limped to the car and curled up on the back seat.
The officers said they were taking Buster to animal control.
According to the police report, Buster was driven to Alton’s public works building, where the animal control office is located. One of the officers shot Buster two times with a 12-gauge shotgun. The officers claimed Buster was “still vicious and charged him while growling,” so the other officer shot Buster two times with a Glock 23 40-caliber pistol.
The Illinois Animal Control Act stipulates that an injured dog should be taken to a veterinarian. The vet can check for a microchip and notify the dog’s owner before taking any further action.
Buster had a microchip.
“After reading the police report, I am speechless,” Jackie Spiker, co-founder of Hope Animal Rescues, wrote on the nonprofit’s Facebook page late Tuesday.
Spiker had not yet seen the report when she was interviewed by KMOV.com earlier that day and had expressed some empathy for the two officers due to their lack of training in handling animals.
“I do not understand how they were able to coax the dog into their car without getting bit, then coax the dog out of their car without getting bit to kill the poor thing,” Spiker wrote later.
At last night’s city council meeting, Marburger said she did not see Buster show any aggressive behavior, although others said he had been “nippy” due to the pain from his injury.
“He was anxious due to his injured leg,” Marburger said, according to the Alton Telegraph. “I couldn’t believe a limping dog could be put down.”
City council members unanimously voted to reinstate an animal control officer.
Justice for Buster
Before the Alton city council meeting last night, about 150 people peacefully protested outside city hall, chanting “Justice for Buster” and holding signs saying, “Animal Lives Matter” and “Paws Up, Don’t Shoot.”
The Alton Police Department‘s Facebook page is filled with comments from people outraged by the shooting.
“We are very aware that many of our followers are angry with the events involving a dog at Family Dollar on Monday,” the department wrote in a status update late yesterday.
“The decision to use a weapon on an animal is never one made lightly. The officers in this instance felt they had exhausted all available options with an injured dog that was showing aggression to multiple people prior to reaching the conclusion that was reached. … This is a sad situation that will hopefully be used to improve the practices of the police department.”
Spiker and others met with Alton Police Chief Jason A. Simmons Tuesday afternoon to discuss humane ways for officers to deal with animals. Simmons told her the officers had made a mistake and accepted Spiker’s offer to provide training.
However, Simmons did not, as Spiker requested, apologize for the killing of Buster.
Photo via Facebook