When I arrived at the scene, that brave little guy
was exhausted and squeezed behind the toilet.
Paramedics were called, and they administered first
aid by bandaging the Poodle's badly injured leg. As
we were about to transport the dog to a 24 hour
animal hospital, a television news crew arrived at
the front of the house. All the gunfire and radio
traffic had alerted them to something that may be
newsworthy...if they'd only known?
The victim...er, the dog...was whisked out the back
door atop a pillow for his trip to the hospital.
During his extraction from behind the toilet and his
treatment by the medics, he didn't growl at anyone;
however, as he sat proudly atop that pillow and
carried past the second officer, he managed one
more toothy growl.
Sadly, the leg had to be amputated, but his
recovery was otherwise complete. The woman,
whose house had been invaded, took everything a
lot better than one might expect, and the suspect,
who started everything, was found hiding in the
basement of the house. The suspect didn't reside
at the dwelling; he'd just planned to run through
the house; until, he saw the officer in the alley.
As bad as things were, they could have been a lot
worse. The rounds fired by the third officer passed
through the kitchen floor and into the basement.
Fortunately, the suspect was not hit. I don't recall
why the suspect was being chased, but he couldn't
have done anything to warrant his accidental
Both shooters were subjected to loss of pay and
remedial firearms training.
While this story has all the elements of courage,
irrational fear, luck and stupidity, there may come a
time during your career when you'll be confronted
by a really dangerous dog. Drug dealers like to
keep large breed dogs with a particular preference
for the Pit Bull. These bottom feeders will starve,
fight or otherwise abuse their dogs in an effort to
make them as mean as possible.
When I had a district drug enforcement unit under
my command, the unit's sergeant used a very
controlled response for conducting raids where
large dogs were known, or suspected, to be
present. One officer would be armed with a 12
gauge shotgun, and he would be the designated
shooter. Two officers would carry the heavy bullet
proof shields. The shields would be utilized to force
the dog(s) into an area where they could be
confined. While a few dogs, all of them Pit Bulls,
had to be shot, the system for confinement proved
to be enormously successful.
If you're really lucky, you'll never have to fire your
service pistol outside the range. If you have an
irrational fear of dogs, start working on resolving
that fear. If you ever have to shoot a dog, make
certain it's really necessary.
A Baltimore police sergeant was attacked by a Pit
Bull. The dog bit the sergeant on his inner thigh
and wouldn't let go. Even though the pain was
excruciating, the sergeant maintained his presence
of mind as he drew his pistol and aimed it at the
dog's head. He was careful to aim his shot so that
he would not end up shooting himself.
Remember when I mentioned that bullets don't
always go where they're supposed to go? In this
instance, the bullet passed through the entire
length of the dog's body, exited and struck the
sergeant in his lower leg.
I always found lack of fear and my nightstick to be
my best defenses against biting dogs. In fact,
most dogs can be intimidated; however, nothing is
ever absolute. Just remember to treat dogs with
deadly force as you would anything else -- a
response of last resort.
When the first officer checked the second floor
master bedroom, he observed a woman lying on her
bed reading a book. Lying beside the woman was
her pet Poodle. The officer startled the woman
who'd not heard anyone entering her house.
Before they could exchange any words, the Poodle
was off the bed and attached to the officer's pants
leg. This officer had no fear of dogs, and he simply
kicked the dog away. The dog landed at the top of
the stairway and tumbled down a few steps.
As the dog recovered his footing, he saw the
second officer standing at the bottom of the
stairway. The Poodle growled his intentions and
charged forward. To be fair, the second officer did
try to back through the closed screen door, before
he fired his service pistol.
Miraculously, the officer's shot struck the small
target in his left front leg. Needless to say, the dog
was disoriented as he ran past the officer into the
living room on his way to the kitchen at the rear of
the house. Remember the third officer guarding the
rear of the house? Yes, another brave police officer
not lacking courage as he charged through the back
door upon hearing the gunfire from inside.
Unfortunately, the third officer was as Cynophobic
as the second officer. He did try to escape from the
Poodle by standing on top of the kitchen table. As
the wounded Poodle tried unsuccessfully to reach
the officer, he was met with more gunfire. Three
shots were fired this time. Fortunately, all missed,
and the Poodle decided he'd had enough. He ran
back through the house to the stairway and past
the second officer who was now standing on the
other side of the front screen door. On his good
three legs, he continued up the stairway, past the
first officer and into the second floor bathroom.
Police departments use to allow the use of firearms
to destroy animals that were so badly injured that
shooting the animal would be a humane use of
deadly force. While some rural police departments
may still allow the use of deadly force to humanely
dispatch an animal, I doubt you'll find many, if any,
urban or metropolitan police departments still
permitting the practice.
The overriding reason for not shooting animals is
simple and logical. Bullets have a way of going
places where they're not intended to go. Today,
animal control officers are available, or police
departments have other humane means
available...most commonly lethal injection.
There may come a time during your career where
you'll be forced to use deadly force to protect
yourself or others from a dangerous animal. For
those of you who join police departments where
encountering bears, mountain lions, alligators or
crocodiles may just be part of the job, I'm certain
your department will give you plenty of training in
handling those encounters.
No matter what part of the country you're policing,
you will encounter dogs...some friendly and some
not so friendly. If you're an animal lover, as I am,
you'll be amazed how many police officers are
deathly afraid of dogs:
Definition of Cynophobia (Webster's New World
Cynophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of
dogs. Sufferers from cynophobia experience anxiety
even though they realize that most dogs pose no
threat. To avoid dogs, they may barricade yards or
refuse to travel except in an enclosed vehicle.
"Cynophobia" is derived from the Greek "kyon"
(dog) and "phobos"(fear).
You're going to work with an officer who doesn't
seem to be afraid of anything. Then...one day that
officer will be confronted by a growling 27 pound
Poodle, and the officer will act in an uncharacteristic
Three officers from my squad were chasing a
suspect on foot when the suspect entered the front
door of a dwelling. The officers were in hot pursuit,
so they naturally entered right behind him. One
officer ran to the second floor while the second
officer stayed inside the front door. The third
officer took up a position outside the rear of the
house to prevent the suspect's escape through the
"While this story has all the elements of
courage, irrational fear, luck and stupidity,
there may come a time during your career
when you'll be confronted by a really
dangerous dog." ~ Barry M. Baker
|Copyright © 2019 Barry M. Baker