This story sounds like a pet owner’s worst nightmare: On New Year’s Day, a Baltimore police officer responding to a domestic violence complaint shot and killed a neighbor’s dog, Kincaid, under disputed circumstances. (The officer says that the dog charged him; Stacy Fields, Kincaid’s owner, points out that the dog was in a fenced-in yard, and that the police officer shot at him 6 times — “shoot first and ask questions later,” as she puts it.) Not content to mourn her pet in silence, Fields has channeled her grief into a grassroots awareness campaign against what some are calling an “epidemic” of police violence against household animals.
Kincaid’s plight has struck a chord: the Facebook page she started to memorialize her pitbull mix racked up more than 8,000 likes over the weekend, along with hundreds of supportive comments and testimonials from people who’ve dealt with similar situations. For its part, the BPD’s spokesman said that “If the dog was aggressive toward the officers or threatened the officers or anyone else, we have the legal right to protect the officer or anyone else and make the situation as safe as possible.”
Fair enough, but six shots fired at a dog with no prior evidence of aggression seems egregious. (Not to mention the fact that Fields’s stepfather was a few steps behind Kincaid, ready to grab his harness — and so nearly missed getting shot himself.) “It is time for police to learn to deal more conscientiously and compassionately with dogs and other pets and to exercise restraint,” Howard Portnoy writes at Examiner.com. It’s certainly possible — remember last summer when BPD officer Dan Waskiewicz responded to a call about a “vicious dog” by… befriending and adopting it? Fields herself takes pains to relate that she’d previously had good experiences with BPD officers interacting with her dogs: “A few weeks ago my other 2 female pit mixes got out of the yard & an officer intercepted them & put them in his car,” she writes on the Kincaid Facebook page. “He didn’t shoot them, taze them nor mase them, He wasn’t scared & didn’t over react! I just need everyone to know it isn’t ALL officers, but the ones that are out here not knowing how to handle situations such as Kincaids need to be educated!!!” Maybe Waskiewicz could teach a dog-awareness education class to his fellow officers?