Police
1:05 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Texas Petition Demands End to Police Shootings of Dogs

A Fort Worth couple lost their family pet in a police shooting earlier this year. Now the couple’s call for statewide police training standards when dealing with dogs has garnered nearly 90,000 signatures.

Cindy and Mark Boling have uploaded a petition to Change.org calling for standardized training, after losing their five year old border collie/English setter mix Lily this spring.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram describes the scene earlier this year:

Mark and Cindy Boling had just returned from a shopping trip, and their two dogs leaped into their truck then dashed inside the garage before re-emerging, barking, when an officer walked up the driveway …

‘As the dogs were getting closer to attack/bite the officer, the officer fired his service weapon, striking the dog closest to him, [a police spokesperson] wrote. …  Here, the couple's account diverges from the police statement. Boling said he had gained control of one of the dogs by the time the officer raised his gun. ‘Then I hear my wife yelling, ‘Don't shoot my baby, please don't hurt my baby!’”’

The petition, directed to leadership of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE), is twofold. It calls to:

  • Require a minimum of eight hours “on-site animal behavior/encounter training” with officers across the state, and
  • Support changes to individual department policies that make force a last resort in dealing with dogs. “Deadly force should never be allowed unless a person other than the officer can substantiate that a person or another animal is in a position of imminent serious bodily injury or death,” the petition reads.

The Bolings allude to two other Texas police shootings of dogs: the 2011 killing of an American rottweiler/basset mix in Arlington, and the Austin shooting of Cisco the Dog in April of this year.

The Cisco shooting prompted training and policy changes at the Austin Police Department. Now, officers must be in  “imminent threat of bodily injury” before firearm use is justified. The department also says its increased its scrutiny of dog shootings.

The Bolings plan to present their petition at TCLEOSE’s next meeting, Dec. 6., at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus.

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