There are double standard penalties for police officers shooting family dogs. Or should I say no penalty? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines double standard as "a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another." This is what I'd call a double standard penalty when a police officer shoots a family dog rather than a private citizen committing the act. Meaning the officer gets away with it, while someone who's not a member of law enforcement goes to jail.
A recent example of a private citizen being arrested for animal cruelty after shooting two dogs occurred in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania on February12. Gabriel Pilotti, 72, was charged with two cases of animal cruelty after killing two dogs Pilotti originally claimed were after his sheep. He later changed his story saying he shot one of the dogs while it was slowly coming toward him, and the other dog as it was running away.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan stated in a news release "there was no justification for the killing of these two dogs. The defendant has been charged and will be dealt with appropriately. Our sympathies go out to the family and children who lost their beloved pets."
This is a far cry from the statements issued across this country at an alarming rate when police officers shoot a family dog under very similar circumstances. Countless dogs have lost their lives these past few years due to the trigger-happy attitude of some police officers. Many of these dogs were murdered on their own property, or chased to another property where they were gunned down.
A common excuse made by the officer is "I feared for my life, therefore I had the right to defend myself." Sadly, the officer is usually cleared of any wrong doing. The officer must be cleared, or it's an admission of guilt. In monetary terms, admitting guilt means paying out big bucks when the family of the dog sues the department or town.
The internet is filled with the stories of innocent dogs being shot by police. The Facebook page Dogs Shot By Police has new stories added almost daily. In the majority of these cases, the dog is either on or adjacent to where the dog lives. On many occasions, the officer is at the wrong address entirely.
Legislation needs to be enacted on a federal level defining strict fines and prison sentences for police officer's who abuse their authority and kill innocent pets. If an average citizen can be charged for the same offense and face fines and jail time, then so should the officer committing the same crime. A police officer is no better than those of us not in uniform when committing such a horrendous act.Perhaps this "kill at will" attitude will change as more dog owner's are suing those responsible for the wrongful death of their pet. Many of these lawsuits name not just the department, but the actual officer involved. Why aren't police officers "dealt with appropriately?" Why do police departments not issue any words of sympathy when their officers kill the family pet? How do the readers here feel? Should the police be held to the same set of standards as the rest of us. Or should the double standard philosophy continue to apply, basically giving approval for officers to shoot first and explain their way out of it later? Your comments are welcome.