March 15th, 2015 — Burberry, a 6-year-old service dog, was shot by a police officer in the early hours of the morning outside his owner’s home in Pacific Beach. Ian Anderson, of San Diego, heard his beloved Pit Bull barking around 5:30 am on Sunday morning. Police had arrived at Anderson’s home mistakenly for “what appeared to be” a domestic disturbance. However, unknowingly the officers had journeyed to the wrong address.
Burberry had been Ian Anderson’s cherished companion for six years and yet he was taken away within seconds by a police officer’s fired weapon. In a statement, Anderson says the police had knocked on his door and Burberry had run outside but had stopped barking as one of the officers reached down to pet him. Regrettably, the other officer on the scene had less that a collected approach and hastily reacted, yelling at the dog and demanding that he be kept inside. Burberry became startled, and the officer proceeded to draw his weapon and fire upon the dog.
In an interview with NBC, Anderson recalled the tragic event, “[The officer] jumped back, went this way, drew his weapon. Boom. Shot right in the head and he was done. He was dead.” Devastated, Anderson laid with the body of his cherished pet, friend and supportive companion for two hours, overwhelmed with grief.
Burberry, a beautiful grey Pit Bull, had not only worked with children with down syndrome, he had also helped Anderson while he was suffering from anxiety after the loss of his father. “He was the best dog in the entire world, I would do anything to have him back right now, absolutely anything,” Anderson tearfully explained.
The San Diego Police Department have since issued a statement, however it lacks any hint of an apology for Anderson’s loss and suffering:
“The preservation of life is our top priority and this includes the lives of animals. This incident is currently being investigated as any officer-involved shooting would be to assure proper procedures were followed. Any further comments prior to the completion of the investigation would simply be premature.”
Dog Encounter Task Force, a non-profit organization based in San Diego, dedicates their time to training police officers how to safely work with dogs and ultimately help reduce the number of dogs and other animals killed by law enforcement. The organization has stated that they had previously reached out, offering their service free of charge, but with no success.
In a statement, the organization said, “There seems to be no question here that this incident did not have to happen. It really makes no difference if this dog was a service dog or not. Our organization has been in conversation with the San Diego Police Department for over 16 months to get them into our TOTALLY FREE Safe Dog Encounter Training. As yet, they have not seen the importance of this training for their agency. We stand at the ready to make sure that our officers can safely deal with dog encounters while keeping everyone else safe too – our dogs and innocent bystanders.”
They proceeded to add, “Our experiences tell us that law enforcement is just like everyone else in that when they know better they do better. Within the training of most law enforcement agencies in the country they actually have no safe dog encounter training. For example, they are not even trained that the very “command presence” posture they are taught in the academy, for use with humans and works well with mountain lions and bears, is viewed as confrontational and highly threatening by dogs. But without safe dog encounter training they have not learned that part yet. Many are taught in the academy that pepper spray does not work with dogs when it is proven that it does! We teach them how to properly read a dog’s body language and signals in order to accurately the situation and how to use their own body language to negotiate with a dog in order to diffuse a situation. For those situations where actual action is required we teach them no less than 19 non-lethal ways to keep a dog encounter safe for everyone. Does that mean that dogs will never get shot? No, it does not and we realize that. We just want to stop the unnecessary dog shootings and we can through the right kind of training.”
The slaughter of this cherished animal is inexcusable and unjust. The facilities are there, being offered, free of charge for the San Diego Police Department. However, they have yet to accept the generous offer and educate their officers in an effort to save the lives of other beloved pets.
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