Wisconsin police are investigating an officer-involved shooting of a family dog after a Marinette girl and her friend were playing around with the home phone and dialed 911.
The dog’s owner, Tiffany Goodlet said she and her husband were out school shopping and had left their 9-year old daughter with a friend and neighbor.
While they were away, the girls snuck back to the Goodlet home for ice cream and began playing around with the home phone, dialing 911 and hanging up, not realizing that doing so would dispatch an officer to the home.
When a Marinette Police officer arrived, the family’s 3 and-a-half year old chocolate Lab, Remington, walked outside to meet him. That’s when the officer fired his gun. The bullet entered through the top of Remington’s head and stopped when it became lodged between his ribs.
Neighbor Todd Smotucha recalled to WBAY, “As [the officer] was approaching the driveway, I noticed the dog which was walking out through here and as he was entering the driveway he got a little ways in and then he pulled out his pistol and shot the dog for no reason.”
“After that, my Ma came into the bedroom because she was watching TV and she heard the shot. She asked me what happened I said, ‘they just shot their dog over there.’ She goes, ‘For what?’ And I says, ‘I don’t know why it didn’t attack him or nothing I said he just walked in the driveway, the dog walked out, and he shot it,’” he continued.
According to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money to treat Remington’s injuries, after he was shot Remington ran off into the nearby woods.
“Remington came home 6 hours later dripping in blood and officers came back to check his injuries and told us to get him to vet. They even went as far to call vets for us.” Goodlet explained.
Goodlet said a different officer arrived to check on Remington and assured the family that the police department would pay for his medical care. She said he even told the veterinarian to “bill everything to the Marinette Police Department”
But, when the veterinarian estimated charges of more than $5,000 to treat the dog, the department withdrew their promise to pay.
“The lieutenant from the police department called down there and said, ‘we are not covering a dime for this, your dog attacked our officer,’” Goodlet said.
Because the family does not have the funds necessary to pay, he was sent home with the bullet still lodged in his ribs.
The police department would not comment on the case, instead referring reporters to City Attorney Jonathan Sbar who only said, “even though I do not believe we had a formal citizen complaint in this case, we’ll always do an internal review, and that review is ongoing.”
Given how often police officers encounter pets, one would think training for handling dogs would be an obvious necessity. With between 37 and 47% of the U.S. population sharing their homes with dogs, police can expect to encounter a family dog about as often as they can expect not to. Yet, police are largely untrained in how to appropriately handle a dog encounter.
An officer untrained in recognizing a dog’s body language, for example, could easily mistake a bounding dog for a charging one, a nervous or frightened dog for an angry one, or an aggressive dog from one that’s merely territorial. Groups like the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, along with hundreds of individual dog trainers and behaviorists, offer free training to police departments, but both organizations say few departments take them up on the offer.