The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

July 8, 2013

Ryan Richardson: Viral video of dog shooting causes outrage

JOPLIN, Mo. — I'm not a person who regularly takes sides on public matters in an open forum.

I fiercely value my privacy, and part of my job is to maintain a degree of objectivity so I can report issus fairly for all parties involved.

I do have opinions, but I pick and choose where I voice them. Last week's shooting of a 2-year-old Rottweiler in Hawthorne, Calif., is an issue I will gladly take up, but not in the way most of you will think.

A video of the incident went viral last week. It depicted the arrest of 52-year-old Leon Rosby. During the arrest, his dog, Max, jumps out of the car and barks at the officers, then becomes more aggressive.

Then an officer shoots the dog. You can hear the screams of the owner and onlookers.

One viewing was enough for me. I was angry, and then I was puzzled.

I did some reading and found that the three officers involved in the arrest were pulled off of street duty after the incident. Like any other time an officer discharges a weapon in the line of duty, there is considerable follow-up work to be done.

There is a lot of outrage online, but I wonder if some if it is misdirected.

I have friends who are policemen, including family members. There isn't one of them who finds some kind of enjoyment in using their gun in the line of duty. Not one.

After discussing the incident with a few of them, many of them said that if they were put in the same situation they weren't sure what they would do. The protocol for dealing with an animal that may become a threat wasn't clear either. Most of the time, the words Òimmediate dangerÓ and ÒthreatÓ were used in deciding if they would have fired.

I feel like this is an issue that requires more training. Besides being a public relations nightmare in the age of pocket video, there's also the possibility that the animal in question is considered a family member by its owners.

I want officers to be as safe as possible while exercising good judgment, which is what they are trained to do. Obviously, there is a disconnect with the public in regards to what to do in a situation like this.

Don't be outraged at the officers, and don't be outraged at the owner for not securing his dog better in his car. Open a dialogue with others about it, and find a way to prevent future incidents like this.

I believe the first rule of having a pet is exercising responsibility, and in this case that's something that needs to be addressed.

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