A member of the Canephile group on Facebook brought my attention to a video that is circulating on Facebook of a multi-family housing surveillance video that shows NYPD Officers in the hallway of a multifamily building, after responding to some sort of domestic disturbance. An officer, knocked on a resident’s door. Someone within the unit opened the door enough for the head and body of a dark colored Pit Bull type dog to squeeze through the slightly opened door. With its tail calmly wagging horizontally, the dog directly approached an NYPD Officer. I did not notice piloerection (hair raised along the dog’s spine, between the base of the neck and base of the tail) or any other obvious signs of arousal in the very, very short video clip. For reasons that have yet to be disclosed, the police officer shot and killed the dog. It may be that the dog was very well socialized, yet not well trained. It could also be that the dog slipped through the dog and the presence of police at the dog was sufficiently distracting that no one really tried to control the dog in those last few moments before a bullet entered its brain. It seems possible that the dog was just happy to see the person at the door, and had no inkling that its death was upon it.
I know nothing of the Officer’s familiarity with dog behavior. I can’t be sure that there wasn’t behavior displayed or vocalizations that (to this officer) communicated a possible threat. Many Pit aficionados are familiar with guttural utterings and mutterings that happy mini molossers joyously make, while “smiling.” Could it be that this dog grinned at the officer?
Hindsight is 20/20, they say. A quick recall by the person opening the door might have been effective in managing the apparently friendly dog’s behavior. It may be that the person answering the dog didn’t feel an urgent need to recall the dog – a laissez faire attitude born of familiarity, and trust? I can’t really say. I think the presence of police at the dog owner’s door was probably more than a little distracting and possibly anxiety-provoking. Some people are not comfortable with the police at their door. Can you imagine? Ugh.
The public outrage has begun. The dog’s death is upsetting. I’d say it’s fairly certain that the officer will claim that he believed there was an imminent threat to himself, as well as the other police personnel. If the dog had stayed or had been recalled to the apartment, the gun shot would be much harder to defend.
I have heard that the owner of the dog wants to file suit against the NYPD. Perhaps it will help bring her closure. I very much doubt it, but I know that bringing a suit may work out for some people
Imagine, if you will… How would you feel each time you left your home if it had been your dog? How likely would you be to open the door, when law enforcement knocks?