Letter to the Editor

Dog's shooting tragic

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dear Editor,

On behalf of "Flo-Jo" the German shepherd that officers were "forced" to shoot, I want to share the truth about what actually happened to the innocent dog.

I witnessed the entire ordeal and found the experience to be traumatic and distasteful. As a proud dog owner, watching the tragic event was heartbreaking and I hope no one has to experience what my colleague, her young daughter, and I did.

The portrayal of the dog that McCook Police describe is misleading and there is a lot of falsified information pertaining to Flo-Jo's demeanor, especially in the article about officers being forced to shoot. The statement about the dog becoming aggressive toward the officer is in no way true at all. He had intent to shoot her, as he was chasing her with a high powered shotgun.

From what I saw, she showed no signs of aggression toward the officer, who shot her from the parking lot of my place of work.

She was simply running away from someone she was obviously afraid of, just like she did when she escaped from the playground where "Several adults and two or three children rattling the fence, charging the fence and screaming and laughing loudly at her."

That statement is also false, I know the adults being referred to as taunting. They recall a much different scenario and found the way the police handled the situation was, for a lack of a better word, disgusting.

The incident occurred shortly after 7 p.m. and it was starting to get dark. I had just closed the store and was about to walk out the door when a colleague returned to finish something she was unable to before going to parent-teacher conferences, so I decided to wait for them. All of the sudden my co-worker started yelling "He has a gun; he's going to shoot that dog." I turned around to see the officer chasing the dog through our parking lot with a shotgun. Then BOOM he fired the gun as the dog was about to enter the cemetery.

We thought he missed her because she continued to run into the cemetery and the officer followed, instantaneously we ran after them hoping to stop them from firing again. Unfortunately, Flo-Jo succumbed to her wounds before we reached the officer. We were in such shock that we couldn't think clearly and couldn't help but scream at the officers in disbelief, especially when we realized what dog they just killed.

My colleagues and I had interacted with Flo-Jo a couple times and she never posed a threat to us. She was a little timid at first, like most dogs are in new surroundings, but she warmed up to us pretty quick. She allowed us to pet her and was very friendly. One night we left some food out back for her because we were unsure if she had a home or not. She didn't return much after that so we assumed she did have a home. We also found out that my colleague's daughter had been around the dog a few times as well and said she was never afraid of the dog.

From the obvious lack of research and ignorance in attempting to catch Flo-Jo, how were they even sure she was a stray? Dogs are brilliant creatures, if they want out bad enough they will find a way to accomplish doing so. Some do it so often their owner doesn't work themselves up to find them because they always return.

The officers told us that Chief Brown ordered them to destroy her that morning because they were unable to catch her and she had the possibility of becoming aggressive if not captured. In my opinion, that is an absolutely horrible excuse to kill any animal and risk the safety of local citizens. Unless the dog had viciously mauled someone and was a definite threat to our community there is no reason to use a shotgun in city limits to dispose of it.

My co-worker and I strongly expressed our concerns to the officers about how we felt in the way they handled the situation. We made sure they were aware that we thought what they did was wrong, cruel, and most of all careless. We see a lot of people walk and drive from the trailer court behind our business and through the cemetery; someone could have easily been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The two officers involved were understanding of our opinions and concerns. I appreciated the fact that they were courteous enough to speak with us to try and defend what happened but in no way does it make it right. The next morning it was brought to my attention that the police department released two articles regarding Flo-Jo. After reading them I found their dishonesty down right baffling.

The article, "Flo-Jo" still on the run, was released a few hours prior to the shooting. In that article there was not one single inclination of her being aggressive or a threat to the community. They made her own safety sound like the top priority because she was the one being tormented and harassed. In other words, she was the victim.

Their "best" and obviously only real attempt to capture her was when they found her on the playground, locked her in, set up a trap and then left while she "settled down for a nap in the sunshine." If they were truly concerned with her and the community's safety they would have caught her there when they had her cornered.

The most ironic statement of all was when Chief Brown said "This is a good opportunity for parents and adults to teach children how to treat dogs -- and how inappropriate it is to tease, harass or be mean to dogs."

All the while, ordering his officers to destroy the dog in public, no less. What does that teach children? That it's not okay to harass innocent animals but it's okay to kill them?

Children are taught to trust and respect Police officers who are supposed to lead by example. So when a child sees an officer shoot a family pet they become unsure who to trust, just like my co-worker's daughter did. She was traumatized and confused.

The second article, Officers forced to shoot, was released the next day and was completely contradicting of the original statements made. Brown said seven calls were received within two weeks about the dog being aggressive toward citizens and only recently toward the officer who was forced to shoot it. If that were true they should have informed the community, in the first article, to be cautious of a potentially dangerous dog in the area.

The McCook Police department's recent behavior is appalling and should not go unrecognized. The people of this community deserve honesty from those who serve and protect us and that's far from what Chief Brown and his officers have displayed. They took the life of an innocent animal and made her look like the bad guy by changing their story to cover up their wrong doings.

I am now deeply concerned for the safety of my own dog who has managed to run off a couple times. He is far from aggressive but I can guarantee he will run away from someone chasing him. I should not have to worry that my dog will face a death sentence if he happens to get loose again and is unable to be captured.

Lastly, my main objective of writing this detailed letter is for our public safety. I strongly believe the city of McCook needs to be aware of how careless these situations are being handled.

There needs to be more suitable and humane way of euthanizing stray or aggressive animals. I stress the fact that this community needs an animal catcher or a trained officer capable of using a tranquilizer gun.

Shotguns are extremely dangerous and there is a much higher risk of accidents, considering once fired the pellets expand for a better chance of hitting a target. We should not have to fear the safety of our animals and loved ones in our home town.

Katie Calitri

McCook, Nebraska

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  • wait til the dollar collapses, the police will tire of shooting dogs and look to the 2 legged variety of critter to shoot.

    -- Posted by BlackRifle on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 2:17 PM
  • *

    To begin with I suspect the Police only killed the dog as a last resort and was not something they really wanted to do. Their job is to protect us and sometimes it becomes the lesser of two evils.

    Suggesting the Police wait for the dog to maul someone before taking action is really a stupid statement and downright incredulous. In fact I think the Police and law enforcement have been much too lenient toward owners that harbor vicious animals.

    I love dogs and have 4 but we keep them where they belong and they don't roam the neighborhoods. How about blaming the owner that originally had the dog rather than the Police that had to clean up after the owner's indiscretion?

    -- Posted by ksfarmer on Thu, Oct 18, 2012, at 9:07 PM
  • Why wasn't the dog shot with a dart gun which would have made it possible to muzzle the animal? This would have allowed time to contact the owner or put the dog up for adoption.

    -- Posted by Geezer on Mon, Oct 22, 2012, at 6:30 AM
  • First the police say they can't get close enough to shoot a tranquilizer gun. Then they shoot it with a shot gun because it became aggressive. Aggressive from a distance I guess.

    Now an eye witness said the dog was not being aggressive. Anything other than the dog (or a person) rolling over on it's back and wetting itself is considered to be aggressive by the police.

    If there was a legitimate reason to shoot this dog, the police wouldn't have to lie about it becoming aggressive towards them.

    -- Posted by Dick on Mon, Oct 22, 2012, at 12:42 PM
  • Dick, you hit the nail right, dab, schmack on the head! They killed this dog because they were "ordered" to and now it's apparently cover up time. I feel really bad for the officers if they were just following an order because this isn't the first time something like this has happened. I give strong kudos to the author, as maybe this will help it to be the last. Sad - very sad.

    -- Posted by SWHUSKER on Tue, Oct 30, 2012, at 5:41 AM
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