Christiano

When Amina passed away, I was in Las Vegas for a conference. It was quite difficult to be away from the family and by the end of my trip, I was very much ready to get back home. Three days after Amina died (and on my last full day in town), I got up early, hopped into my rental car, and headed to the edge of town to go for a slightly crazy run in the desert. It was a hot day — it got up to 99 and was already 80, just a few hours after the sun had come up. I headed east on Tropicana Ave, a heavily traveled road with three lanes in each direction. On a section of the road with no shoulder between the street and the sidewalk, I spotted a white dog walking off-leash with no people near him.

At the next street, I turned around and found a parking lot nearby to stop my car. Fortunately, a woman on a bike was riding by and had stopped to pet the dog, which kept him from stepping out into the street. I approached them slowly and asked, “Is that your dog?” She said he wasn’t and she didn’t seem particularly interested in helping find out who he belonged to. I knelt down and pet the sweet dog, patting his head, scratching his neck, and then slowly grabbing hold of his collar. He had no tags. I told the woman I’d take care of him and she biked away. I held onto his collar and brought him along with me to the next street which had a row of townhouses. I found one man in his garage and asked if he’d ever seen the dog before and he said he hadn’t. I then asked if he had a leash I might be able to use. He disappeared inside his house and brought out a small strap. It wasn’t a leash, but it was better than nothing, so I tied it onto his collar and led the dog back to where I was parked.

I knelt down to pet him and talk to him some more. His fur draped over his eyes and was slightly matted in various places, but otherwise he was healthy and happy. He loved the attention, nuzzling my chest and rolling over on his back for a tummy rub.

Christiano - pet my belly!

I weighed my options. I definitely didn’t want to take him to a shelter where he might be killed. I started thinking, “How can I sneak him into my hotel room for the night?” I didn’t have a smartphone at that time, so I called home to Huyen and had her search for a no-kill shelter nearby. Thankfully, she found the Nevada SPCA, which was no-kill and since it was Monday, it was open. I said, “Come on, boy. We’re going for a ride.” I figured Advantage might not appreciate a dog in the back seat of their rental car, but I would deal with that when the time came.

The dog hopped right in the back of the car and sat down without much prompting. I snapped a picture before taking him to the shelter.

Christiano

I talked with him all the way until I pulled up to the Nevada SPCA’s building. I brought my new friend inside and the woman behind the counter looked at me a little funny for the goofy short strap leash I was holding. When she asked why I was giving him up, I said, “I found him.” She wrote, “Surrendering animal.”

She told me a little more about the Nevada SPCA. It’s a no-kill shelter in the area of the country with the highest per-capital kill rate of dogs and cats. This made me even happier that I’d found them. She also said the area where I found him was a common place pets are let go because the apartment complexes there don’t allow animals. She confirmed that Tropicana Ave is a very dangerous road and that it was a good thing he didn’t wander off the sidewalk into traffic.

I said a quick goodbye and an employee took him behind the counter to prep him for his stay at the shelter.

Photo-0010.jpeg

I headed back out to the car. Before I turned the key, I felt a wash of emotion come over me that hadn’t hit me in the excitement of getting the dog to safety. I’m not one to give much stock to “fate,” “luck,” or the universe giving me some sort of message, but I won’t deny that I got choked up in that moment thinking about Amina and the amazing timing of finding this dog less than 24 hours before I was going to head home, all because I decided to take a run in the desert.

I kept an eye on the Nevada SPCA’s site for a week or two after getting home because they told me he’d probably be up for adoption within a couple of days. It took a while, but he eventually showed up and I recognized him immediately when I saw his eyes. He cleaned up nicely!

Christiano - cleaned up!

They named this Labradoodle “Christiano” and had just a short description on the web site about him:

“Christiano” – “Comical, fun-loving young Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever & Poodle), male, 1 yr.”

When I dropped him off, they assured me he’d have no trouble finding a home, as Labradoodles are extremely popular with families. Sure enough, within two days, he was adopted to “a very nice couple.” I’m pretty sure I would have adopted him on the spot had I not been across the country, but I’m glad he wound up in a good home.

I’ve passed along my contact information to the SPCA to share with the couple. I’d love to share his story with them and hear how he’s doing now. I only spent an hour or so with him, but because of the timing and his personality, I felt a quick connection to him.

I hope he’s doing well.

Amina

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It’s been two years since Amina passed away and it’s taken me this long to write an entry about her. And even with all that time, writing a little bit here and there as it felt right, the post was still a tough one to put together.

History

In the fall of 2004, Amina was found wandering on a highway near Lynchburg, VA and brought to a nearby shelter. No owners claimed her. Her time was almost up when, on November 4th, a woman who did dog rescue in the area saved Amina from being euthanized. At that point, she was named Wanderer and spent time bouncing between boarding and foster homes. At some point she may have been given the name Traveller. That Christmas, she had her picture taken with Santa.

Amina with Santa

March 26th of the following year, Friends of Homeless Animals, a local no-kill shelter, brought her in, renaming her Treasure. In late April, my wife and I visited FOHA to meet some dogs. We didn’t click with any of them, so we came back on May 1st to meet some more. That was when we took Amina for a walk on the FOHA grounds.

Meeting Amina

She was stubborn on the leash, but walked at a leisurely pace, sniffing everything with her long hound nose. We took her into the play area to toss a ball for her and let her run off-leash a bit. We laughed as she showed absolutely no interest in any toys and simply kept sniffing around.

As we brought her back from her walk, she tried stealing an entire pan of brownies off of a table (why anyone would have chocolate brownies where there are dozens of dogs around, I’m not quite sure). My wife and I talked it over a bit and decided we loved Amina’s demeanor and wanted to bring her into the family. We wouldn’t be able to bring her home for another week because we had a trip planned, but we decided to start the process.

Before we left for the day, we went into the kennel area and knelt down in front of her cage. Other dogs were barking and going berserk, but she just sat there, looking at us expectantly. “Do you want to come home with us?” I asked her and, in response, she put her paw up on the cage door. We knew she was the one.

We traveled to New York that week, but upon return, we picked her up and brought her home on May 7, 2005, renaming her Amina, an Arabic name meaning “peaceful” or “secure.”

The first few weeks with Amina were a bit rougher than we expected. She was recovering from a mild case of heartworm and still had some treatment left. Unfortunately, she reacted badly to the treatment and went several days without eating or drinking. My grandmother passed away the week after we brought Amina home and because Amina was sick, we made the tough decision that my wife would stay home with her while I drove to my grandmother’s funeral.

Thankfully, Amina started feeling better while I was away and with those first couple of weeks behind us, we were able to relax and get to know one another a little better.

All About Amina

Amina was probably a hunting dog (she had a small buckshot under the skin on one of her hind legs) and was likely bred, as she’d had a litter of puppies. We always hypothesized that she was a bad hunting dog because she got along so well with other animals and never showed any prey drive. Plus, contrary to Blueticks’ tendency for loud and frequent barking, Amina barked less than ten times in the five years she was with us. Many hunting dogs that aren’t “useful” will be shot. Fortunately, Amina either ran off or was let go to fend for herself.

Amina was a calm spirit, but when she first came home with us, she clearly had some anxieties. On walks, she would jump anytime a car drove by, surely a result of wandering on her own along a highway. The first time she met my dad, she growled at him (something she’d never do again with him or anyone else). With time, she learned to trust people and not be anxious around cars.

And though Amina was calm, she also had a sneaky streak in her. Not long after we’d brought her home, Huyen and I were upstairs when we heard a crashing sound downstairs. I ran down and found Amina standing there with an entire baguette in her mouth, bumping it into the table as she turned her head trying to get past.

As sweet as Amina was, she was also notoriously stubborn. There would be times when I’d try to get her to stand up so we could go out for a short walk before bed, and she was absolutely not interested. It would take lots of convincing some nights, prompting her with treats and embarrassing voices. On walks, Amina would have a very set plan in mind about where she wanted to go. More accurately, she had it set in her head where she didn’t want to go. More than once she stood there, feet planted firmly on the ground, unwilling to move in the direction I wanted to move. So, I’d try going another direction, figuring she had a specific route in mind. She didn’t budge. I tried all four directions and she wasn’t interested in going in any of them. She just wanted to stand there until she was good and ready to move. I’m pretty sure she would have made Cesar Milan throw his hands up in frustration.

My favorite “stubborn Amina” story comes from a time we dropped Amina off at my parents’ house when we took a trip to New York. My mom took Amina out for a walk, but by the time they got to the end of the driveway, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain. It was at this point Amina decided to plant it and not move. My mom stood there, getting completely drenched, urging Amina back to the house, without success. My dad still laughs when he describes my mom coming back in the house soaking wet and scowling at Amina for choosing that moment to display her stubborn nature.

Though Amina was likely a hunting dog, clearly we never had her out hunting. She really didn’t have much of a hunting instinct, anyway. We used to petsit a friend’s rabbit for a month each year and Amina showed little more than mild curiosity about the houseguest. However, Amina did like to use her hound nose, so we would challenge her by hiding treats in between sofa cushions, perched on shelves, and behind table legs. We’d come in from our last walk of the night and say, “Where is it?” and she would tear around the room looking for her treats, sometimes burying her face nose-deep into couch cushions or other common hiding places she remembered.

Another personality trait of Amina’s that I’ll never forget was her passive-aggressiveness. If you think a dog is incapable of this type of behavior, allow me to share a common occurrence:

Most nights, Amina slept in bed with us. Usually she’d curl up at the bottom of the bed before I even got under the covers. Sometimes, she’d spread out and I’d have to contort myself in order to find a place to sleep. But every so often, I’d get into bed first and she’d lay on the floor. A few hours later, I’d wake up, open my eyes, and find myself face-to-face with Amina. She would sit there quietly—and kind of creepily—staring at me, waiting for me to move so she could get into bed. Huyen told me that sometimes she’d hear Amina very subtlely whine, just loudly enough to wake me up, but not loudly enough that I’d take notice of it upon waking.

So, I’d groan a bit and say, “OK, girl, hop up,” and pat the bed, making room for her at the bottom. But Amina wouldn’t hop up. She’d just keep staring at me. Eventually, I learned, she was waiting for me to get up and go to the bathroom so she could hop into bed and steal my spot. I guess she figured if she started the night on the floor, I was supposed to finish it there.

I also can’t go without mentioning that she was super patient and very tolerant when our daughter was born. There were no issues with introducting a new member to “the pack” at all.

Hugs to the Best Doggy

The Illness

After Amina had been with us for about 3 1/2 years, she started throwing up some mornings. At first, it was about once a month, but then gradually increased to once every few weeks. Initially we thought it was because she was hungry, so we fed her a small snack first thing in the morning, but that didn’t have much effect. We took her to the vet because this was unusual for Amina. They were dismissive about it, telling us, “Oh, she probably snuck some food and was just throwing it back up.”

But the throwing up progressed and became much more frequent. It started happening every two weeks. Then every week. Then every few days. We tried diet changes. We tried various short-term medicines. We went to a holistic vet and had accupuncture done. No one could give us any real, definitive answers. For months, we were making vet appointments, begging them to help us find what was really wrong with Amina. It got to the point where she was throwing up multiple times a day. Several times we had to take her to the emergency vet for dehydration, once after having thrown up eight times in a single day. Amina stopped eating almost everything.

It wasn’t until a year after the first time we brought her in because of her vomiting that a different vet in the practice suggested we get an ultrasound and endoscopy done to help get a more accurate picture of what was going on inside.
So, we did. Amina was losing weight and though we hated to put her through an invasive procedure that would keep her at the emergency vet overnight, we did it. The doctor that did the procedure told us that the lining of Amina’s stomach, which was supposed to appear smooth, looked “cobblestone-like.” It was completely bumpy and that was why she couldn’t keep any food down.

They took a biopsy to test for cancer. We were relieved when the test came back negative and the doctor diagnosed Amina with the somewhat catch-all diagnosis of “inflammatory bowel disease” (which, it should be noted, is different from “irritable bowel syndrome”). She presented IBD as a harsh and lifelong disease, but that the symptoms would ultimately be treatable. Initially the medications would be somewhat heavy. But that was necessary, she told us, in order to treat the damage that had already been done. After a month or so, she assured us, Amina’s meds could be cut back to a more theraputic dose, once she started eating better, gaining weight, and showing overall improvement.

Amina was put on metocloprimide, Pepcid, a limited ingredient food, metronidizole, and prednisone. Over the next couple of months, the cocktail was adjusted slightly, but those were the typical meds she took. And she didn’t like them. While we were initially able to give her meds in peanut butter, she eventually took a dislike to peanut butter and we had to try every other nut butter in existence just to get her to take her pills.

While we were relieved at the diagnosis and very pleased that the mediciations were keeping her from vomiting (in fact, she didn’t vomit again once she went on her meds), about a month later we started seeing some problematic things. For one, Amina’s appetite was still not great, even with an occasional appetite stimulant. Secondly, and more disturbingly, we noticed she was starting to lose strength in her legs. She was keeping our walks short, stepping tentatively up the stairs onto the porch, and tripping wjem trying to go up to the second floor. We talked to the doctor about this, and she said this was a normal side effect of the prednisone (something she’d never told us to expect). She gave us some recommendations on how to keep Amina’s muscles from atrophying.

Unfortunately, over the next several weeks, it got so bad that we had to help Amina stand and that her legs would completely give out on her. Sure, she wasn’t vomiting anymore, but she was miserable and couldn’t even stand up on her own. It took a lot of pressure, but the doctor finally reduced the dose of prednisone and was going to start transitioning Amina to a replacement.

For our part, we continued the exercises, got her to a physical therapy appointment, and even took her for some water therapy (the first time we ever saw her swim!). In early June, she was still not doing very well, but we had a little bit of hope that we’d be able to turn the corner, get her muscle strength built back up, and get things a little closer to normal again. I had a conference in Las Vegas and it crushed me to leave the family with things in such a precarious state with Amina, but I did. Before heading out the door, I gave Amina a hug and told her, “Start feeling better, OK, girl?”

Two days later, June 11, 2010, after the first session of the conference, I got a call from Huyen. Amina was gone.

Huyen had gone out for the morning with Rasine and was going to go from their first appointment to a playdate at a friend’s house. But Huyen realized she’d left something at home, so stopped by the house to pick it up and decided to take Amina out for a quick pee before she left (the medicine had Amina peeing 10-12 times a day). As they walked through the front yard, Amina collapsed. She couldn’t get up. Huyen knew this was beyond the stumbles Amina had taken before, so she picked Amina up, put her in the back seat of the car, and called the emergency vet to let them know she was on the way. During the five minute trip to the hospital, Amina died.

To say we were crushed and heartbroken would be an understatement. We’d try so hard to help Amina, did our best to get her through her illness and make her comfortable during the treatment… and it was all over, just like that. We were sad, of course, but also angry. We were angry at the vets who blew off our initial concerns. We were angry at the emergency vet who often made us feel like we were doing something wrong with Amina’s treatment or that we were wasting her time. We were angry that we never really found out why Amina was sick.

Even two years after the fact, it’s something that’s hard to talk about. I suspect the wounds will always be there. But, fortunately, we were able to spend five great years with Amina. We have thousands of pictures and even more memories. And I know that as difficult as the last few months were for her, Amina loved us and knew we were doing our best to help her.

We miss you, girl.

Amina's Relaxation Pose

Chistmas Eve Family Portrait

Family Portrait Xmas Eve

Daddy with his Daughters

The furry daughter with her dad

Amina

The last photo I took of Amina, a low quality cell phone shot a few days before she died.

Amina on Flickr | Amina on Dogster

RIP, Amina

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We lost our sweet girl today.

We will miss you so, so much, Amina. Thank you for picking us and sharing your life with us.

Reading
Taken in February of this year.

Daddy with his Daughters
October 2009. This one is one of my favorites.

Family at Barktoberfest '09
At Barktoberfest (an annual reunion/fundraiser for the shelter where we adopted Amina), October 2009.

DSC_0644
November 2008. Thanks to Natala Constantine for this great shot.

Treasure
When we first met Amina at FOHA, May 1, 2005.

RIP, Sammy

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RIP, Sammy

Last night, my family’s cat Sammy died. I still remember back in 1992 when Sammy came to us as a kitten for my sister’s birthday. Sammy was an independent cat early on who, though he interacted with people, was known to turn on a dime while you were petting him. In his later years, after my sister and I moved out, he changed quite a bit. Perhaps it was the addition of another cat to the household or the deaths of our dogs Bosco and Lady, but he became very affectionate towards people and significantly less grouchy.

He had some strange habits. He enjoyed “relations” with a stuffed dog and looked guilty when he was caught because of making too much noise. He also enjoyed vegetables — broccoli and even corn on the cob. I’m not an expert on cat behavior, but from what I understand, this is somewhat unique.

But for all his youthful attitude and strange habits, he was a really nice cat and I always looked forward to seeing him on trips home to visit the family. It’s hard to believe he was around for what’s half of my life, but he was and was happy and healthy up until a few months before his death.

We’ll miss you, Sam.

Excessive Force

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This morning, I was chatting with a neighbor and somehow the conversation turned to the time a police officer shot and killed a dog on our street a few years ago. As the conversation progressed, I found myself feeling agitated because even though she noted that she would “never forget the sound of the dog crying,” she defended the officer and blamed the dog’s guardians for the outcome. On the other hand, I told her that it was absolutely unnecessary and that the officer should never have pulled his pistol. And here’s the thing: I saw it happen. I know it didn’t have to be.

Here’s what I wrote the day it happened, just over two years ago:

Yesterday morning, when I was out walking the dog, we walked by a group of three dogs that were off leash, a Rottweiler, a black lab mix, and a smaller dog that I couldn’t identify.  I was a little curious, but they seemed to be sticking around one particular house, so I figured their guardian had just let them out.  They weren’t aggressive and didn’t even come over to sniff.

Last night, we were out again and we saw the dogs again, this time in the yard of a house on the opposite corner from ours.  They were running about, including out into the road, so obviously something was up.  I had my cell with me and called animal control (who I have stored in the phone because the need to call seems to come up every few months).  They were closed and their message seemed to indicate that if the dogs didn’t appear sick or dangerous, there wasn’t much else to do.

After we got back from our walk, I went across the road into another neighborhood where I remember seeing a sign about a lost black lab mix.  I called, but that family had already been reunited with their dog and just hadn’t removed the signs.

When I got back home, the pack was nowhere to be seen.  I went back inside, frustrated, and figured I’d call the next morning if I saw them again.

This morning, I ran an errand, talked to a neighbor about the dogs and thought about it all a bit more.  Something weird was going on.  Last night, they were hanging out in the front yard of the house near ours.  I saw them run towards a man walking past and bark at him, which seemed to shake him up a little, but they didn’t attack him.  It just seemed like they were defending their territory.  I think that these three dogs live in that house, which was just recently moved into by the new owners.  Usually there were some dogs in the backyard, but I hadn’t heard them bark recently.  Plus, the house’s front lawn was getting to be very overgrown.  It’s like they hadn’t been there in quite a while.  Had they left the dogs to fend for themselves?  Did they leave overnight and just forget to lock the gate?  It wasn’t clear.

When I got back from my errand, a cop car pulled up to the house.  The officer got out of the car, walked into the front yard towards the three dogs who were laying there.  They got up and came at him, barking like the did at the man the night before.  The cop got freaked out.  He reached in his holster, pulled out his pistol, and then POP.

The dogs (two of them or possible all three, I’m not sure) scurried around the house.  I could hear a loud, painful crying and whimpering that ended a minute or so later.  The cop stood in the front yard, looking a bit stunned, and then called in backup.

A kid across the street saw it happen and yelled out to a friend down the street, “I think a cop just popped a cap in that dog!”  I watched the whole thing unfold from my front porch, not being able to shake that sound of the dog crying.

A few minutes later, more police and animal control showed up.  The woman from animal control carried the limp body of what looked like the black lab to her van.  I didn’t see the other two dogs.

I held out a small bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, that wasn’t a pistol he had pulled.  Maybe it was a tranquilizer.  But as I left for work a few minutes later, I saw the cops in the overgrown front yard with a metal detector, trying to find the shell casing.

I’m really angry by the way things went down.  First of all, how come animal control isn’t on call after 5pm?  If they had been able to help when I called the night before, this wouldn’t have happened.  Secondly, where the heck are the owners of that house?  Why would a brand new family leave a yard to get completely overgrown and leave behind their three dogs?  Lastly, and most frustratingly, why did the cop shoot the dog?  It was absolutely unnecessary.  Of course they got up and barked at him, he approached them, infringing on their territory.  Why didn’t he just call over to them from a safe distance?  Or call in for backup?  It was three dogs he was dealing with, what made him think he could deal with it on his own, even if they were completely docile?  Should an officer that’s that skittish around dogs really be the one to go on that type of call?

I’m going to talk to another neighbor that I saw talking with the cops and try to find out the full story.  If everything turned out the way it appeared to, I’ll be writing a letter to the police department about the way it went down.

I keep replaying the situation in my head.  There’s no reason it had happen like that.

Later that day, I wrote this:

I talked to my neighbor tonight and she filled me in, letting me know that yes, indeed, the lab was killed by the bullet. In addition, the bullet went through the lab (the oldest of the three) and grazed the smallest dog. Thankfully, the small dog is back at home, recovering, after a visit to the emergency room. It may have been the small dog that I heard wimpering, but I don’t think so.

Apparently the dogs have been digging holes under the fence and have gotten out frequently over the last few weeks. Animal control’s been there a number of times. Everytime the family there fills the holes, the dogs dig them back out again.

After I talked with my neighbor and got some more information, I went over and talked to the man himself, who was out in front of his house. He told me that the police seargent told him that the two large dogs “lunged” at the officer and that the officer didn’t even have time to get the gun fully aimed after he pulled it out of the holster.

As a recap:

  • From my vantage point, the officer made no attempt to call to the dogs. He walked directly at them, on their property.
  • Though the dogs did get up and come at him (and may have been barking, I can’t remember), I saw no evidence that they were lunging. What I saw was the officer back up, get nervous, pull his gun, point, and shoot.
  • Even if they did come at him agressively, he was approaching them on their property; shouldn’t he have been prepared to use non-lethal force, like his baton or mace? Aren’t police trained in this?

I’m also still confused why one cop was sent to handle three dogs and why he didn’t just wait for animal control to arrive since these dogs were doing nothing but laying in their own front yard.

This was the first time I’ve met this particular neighbor. While I’m downright angry at the way the situation went down, he seemed more stunned and saddened, just trying to make sense of it all. He told me about going to see his dog one last time and get his collar. He said he noticed that the bullet went in the dog’s side, near his rear leg, which seemed like a strange place if the dog was indeed lunging. He showed me the bloodstains on the ground and the spray paint marking where the bullet casing was found (the cops didn’t find it with their metal detector, he found it).

I gave him my name and number and let him know I’d be happy to help if he was going to file a complaint or press charges.

As I was walking Amina tonight and I thought about the pain this guy must be feeling at the loss of his friend, I thought that maybe there was a reason I locked myself out of my house today. Though nothing will bring his dog back, I hope he can get some sort of resolution to this.

Something I didn’t mention in the update is that when I was talking with the man in his front yard, I had Amina with me. As we were talking, I looked down and her tail was between her legs and she was shaking, something that doesn’t happen unless something’s spooked her. It was clear she could sense something bad had happened there — maybe she could smell the other dog’s blood on the ground — and she didn’t want to stick around.

The days following the shooting were very tense and stressful. I talked to a reporter from the local paper and spoke out (anonymously) about what happened. The feedback on the paper’s site was half “I can’t believe the cop did that!” the other half cheering the cop on and saying that I was full of crap despite the fact I witnessed it. A number of times, I looked out my front door and saw a cop car parked there, the officer staring at my house and taking notes. I spoke with an animal control officer, who was conducting an investigation for his office.

Eventually, the policeman who I saw outside my house on numerous occasions came to the door. I stepped out onto the porch and spoke with him. He was in charge of the police’s internal investigation and wanted to get my side of the story. I told him everything, as I did the newspaper and the animal control officer. The cop spent a lot of the time defending his fellow officer, almost like he was trying to convince me the shooting was justified. He showed me how much more difficult it is to pull the mace from a holster compared to the gun. He was friendly about it all and didn’t come off as intimidating, but I still came away from the conversation feeling pessimistic about how things would turn out.

Weeks passed, and nothing. No news in the paper, no calls from police or animal control. The neighbor decided not to press charges after he found out the most he’d be able to get out of it was $80 for the “value” of his dog and possibly reimbursement for cleaning blood off of his carpet. I eventually found out from speaking with another neighbor that the police had completed their internal investigation and found the officer was in the right. No action would be taken against the officer.

Big surprise.

Even though this happened over two years ago, the event still weighs on my mind. I’ve found myself scowling as police drive by and haven’t called animal control since then (rather, I’ve done a few catch-and-returns on my own). When I see an officer, I think to myself, “Is that the guy that shot the dog? Is he the one who fired a pistol with a kid only 20 feet away?” And I’ve lost a lot of faith in neighbors who feel that shooting a dog point blank is justified just because he’d escaped his yard and had been wandering the neighborhood.

I understand that police work is dangerous and I know that an aggressive dog, just like an aggressive human, may need to be subdued. But I sincerely hope that officers are receiving better training about how to deal with groups of animals (don’t try to handle them alone, don’t approach them on their property, use non-lethal force, etc.). Sadly, I suspect this is not the case.