There have been numerous high-profile examples of law enforcement officers killing people after using a questionable, or obviously unjustified, amount of force. Much less attention has been paid, however, to the unwarranted use of force in killing people’s pets, whom many consider to be members of their family, and whose unnecessary deaths cause nearly as much grief and anguish.
The numbers of animals killed during police encounters is shockingly high. The actual number is unknown – there is not even an official accounting of people killed by police, much less animals – but estimates range from several hundred to several thousand per year. The Puppycide Database Project, which bills itself as “the first nationwide database tracking police shootings of animals,” has documented nearly 3,000 such cases over the last several years. Countless others doubtless go unreported.
Sometimes such shootings are justified, such as when a vicious dog charges at a police officer in the line of duty with a clear intent to commit harm. But, far too often, the killings are totally preventable, and sometimes just plain cruel.