Eleven representatives of national animal organizations and state shelters have joined in asking for an investigation of the shooting of five caged dogs by a police officer in a municipal shelter in Selma, California.
From the letter, addressed to Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth A. Egan:
We have learned of the shooting that happened at the Selma Animal Shelter last week, during which an unnamed officer allegedly shot five dogs still inside their closed kennels. In at least one television news interview, Selma’s police chief Myron Dyck not only admitted that the incident occurred, but stated that such action was justified because the dogs were allegedly aggressive and already slated for euthanasia. In another news story, Selma’s City Manager D-B Heusser is quoted as saying about these dogs and the shooting: “They were very aggressive… It had to be done."
We cannot express strongly enough that both the actions of the officer in question and the defense of such actions are unacceptable, and we request that you investigate the incident and pursue every appropriate legal recourse to hold this officer accountable.
The officer in question shot five dogs while they were still inside in their kennels, allegedly because he feared for his life. We in the animal care and control industry cannot fathom a scenario where a dog safely behind closed kennel bars would be able to inflict bodily injury on a human standing on the outside of the kennel.
Animal shelters are intended to be safe havens for pets that are homeless, abandoned, abused, neglected, or otherwise in need of care. The people entrusted with this important responsibility should exemplify the highest standards of compassion, regardless of the animals’ physical appearance or behavioral status. We understand more than anyone else the challenges and demands that animal control professionals face every day, and we are proud to stand behind the men and women who perform this lifesaving work humanely and professionally (including, we trust, others who care for animals at the Selma Animal Shelter). However, as the facts have been reported in this case, we find no excuse or justification for the callous disregard for animals this officer exhibited. Moreover, we cannot stand behind an agency or its leadership that would permit such a horrific abuse of the public’s trust to take place and do anything other than condemn it.
The letter is signed by Jennifer Fearing, California Senior State Director of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS); Nancy McKenney, Executive Director of the Marin Humane Society; Eric Sakach, Senior Law Enforcement Official, HSUS; Cindy Machado, Director of Animal Services, Marin Humane Society; Inga Fricke, Director, Shelter & Rescue Group Services, HSUS; Lisa Carter, Executive Director, Santa Cruz SPCA & Humane Society; Jennifer Scarlett, DVM, Co-President, San Francisco SPCA; Brandy Kuentzel, Esq., Corporate Counsel/Dir of Advocacy, San Francisco SPCA; Dave Dickinson, Director, Sacramento County Animal Care; Rick Johnson, Executive Director, Sacramento SPCA; Tara Diller, Administrative Services Officer II, Sacramento County Animal Care.
Update from Jennifer Fearing: "Ledy vanKavage, Esq., Sr. Legislative Attorney, Best Friends Animal Society, has also aligned with the sentiments in the letter and will follow up with Selma officials to add on."
The entire letter can be read here (PDF).