The Crawford County, Georgia Sheriff’s Office is investigating a disturbing incident in which, after shooting a man’s dog, a deputy ordered the dog’s owner to behead him.
Around 4:00pm on Friday, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a person bitten by a dog. When police arrived, the dog, a pit bull mix named Big Boy, reportedly lunged at the deputy who shot and killed him.
Big Boy’s owner, Joe Goodwin, wasn’t home when his dog was shot, but arrived shortly after where, he says, he was confronted by an officer that demanded he cut his dog’s head off or go to jail.
Goodwin said he understands why police shot his dog, but is traumatized by the events that followed.
Horrified by the deputy’s demands, Goodwin began recording the encounter with his cell phone and posted the shocking videos to Facebook.
In one video, a man who identified himself as investigator James Hollis said, “We’re asking you to remove the dog’s head and you’re refusing, right?”
According to several reports, officers asked Goodwin to provide proof of rabies vaccinations for Big Boy. When he didn’t have shot records immediately available, police informed Goodwin that his dog would need to be tested for rabies.
It’s important to note that testing a deceased dog for rabies involves sending brain tissue of the animal to a laboratory. However, under Georgia law, submission of brain tissue for testing must be coordinated with the environmental health section of the county health department and/or animal control agency. Additionally, this procedure must be done following strict guidelines that reduce the risk of exposure and spread of infectious material.
The removal of a dog’s head for rabies testing is NEVER done by the dog’s owner, using a kitchen knife, outside on a lawn. Collection of brain tissue specimens is always done either by a licensed veterinarian or testing laboratory, in sterile environments and under strict environmentally safe conditions.
Goodwin refused to cut his dog’s head off and the ensuing confrontation became heated.
“I’mma tell you something right now. I’m investigator Hollis. You’re not gonna talk to me nor my deputy like that,” the officer can be heard saying in the video. A second officer at the scene can be heard declaring that he used to work for Animal Control, but doesn’t know the process for having a dog tested for rabies.
Eventually, under threat of jail, Goodwin obeyed the officer’s orders and did the unthinkable.
“I removed my dog’s head and I put it in some Kroger bag and I showed the officer, ‘Here’s the head, this is what you wanted, right?’,” said Goodwin.
Then, Goodwin’s girlfriend had to drive to the county health department to delivery Big Boy’s head.
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. Sheriff Lewis Walker said in a statement, “the circumstances regarding the dog attack, the shooting, and the processing of the animal for state mandated rabies testing is under investigation.”
Further information will be provided as facts become available.