I was saddened to read March 22nd on WLOX’s website that Melmo had been murdered in Gulfport, MS, and likely her killer will not be held accountable for Melmo’s death. Why? Because Melmo, an eleven-year-old dog that was properly chained in her own yard, was shot by a police officer six times. According to WLOX the police officer is still on active duty. Melmo joins a long line of pet victims of police shootings. Perhaps the most well-known shooting of a family’s pets was when Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Mayor Cheye Calvo’s two dogs were shot and killed by police officers inside Mayor Calvo’s home.
Most of us probably think it can’t happen to our pets, but sadly the evidence shows that it can happen to anyone. Journalist Radley Balko, who covers police misconduct, has noticed an increase of reports of police shooting the family pet with a notable lack of reasonable cause, remorse or subsequent disciplinary consequences. Pets have been killed by police who were merely questioning neighbors about a crime in the area, cutting across private property while in pursuit of a suspect, or after responding to a false burglar alarm. It doesn’t matter if the dog is in your house, in your fenced- in yard, leashed or loose. It doesn’t matter what size or breed your dog is.
For example in Oklahoma, security camera footage captured police shooting Tammy Christopher’s wheaten terrier to death in its own yard after they stopped to ask for directions. In another chilling case, video footage taken from a police cruiser shows (Des Moines) police officers talking about how to entice Rosie, a Newfoundland, to come out of her yard so they could kill her because they didn’t want to shoot Rosie in her own yard. They even discuss tasering a second dog that was inside the fenced-in backyard because it “might” come over the fence. You can watch the YouTube video here
All of this begs the question: Why are the very people who are supposed to protect and serve us killing our pets? What can we do? A start would be to send a strong message to the Gulfport Police Department that the killing of Melmo was uncalled for and that we demand the officer be held accountable for taking Melmo’s life. You can sign a petition demanding that here
You can also call you elected representatives and demand that laws be enacted that prevent police from arbitrarily using deadly force against our pets. Demand that when anyone in law enforcement uses deadly force against a pet they be held accountable. Insist that all members of law enforcement be trained on how to deal with pets, especially dogs. A U.S. Postal Service spokesman told Radley Balko that all of their employees get annual training on interaction with dogs, unlike most police departments. Price isn’t even an issue as a spokesman for the Humane Society stated that his organization offers free training to any police department that requests it but could only think of a few that had taken advantage of the offer. There is no reason why the police should be using deadly force against our pets.