Get the facts in the dog shooting

Emotions run high in shooting of Severn dog

August 05, 2010

Emotions run high when pets are in the news. The shooting of Bear-Bear, a Siberian husky, in an Anne Arundel County dog park by an off-duty federal officer who says he felt the husky was attacking his dog, has produced a torrent of public outrage and a quick change of position by county officials.

Wisely, County Executive John R. Leopold has ordered the Anne Arundel County police to conduct a full investigation of what happened. The initial response of the county's police department that the shooting was not worthy of investigating made little sense. Discharging a firearm in a public park, let alone shooting an animal, is not something to be taken lightly. It shouldn't take a story in The Baltimore Sun and an angry public reaction for the Anne Arundel police to take a shooting seriously.

The conduct of the policemen and Anne Arundel County workers who initially dismissed the incident should be examined. If there was negligence or other improper conduct, they should be disciplined.

The federal officer, an unnamed 32-year-old who works at Fort Myer, Va., has told police he fired his gun because he feared for the safety not only of his dog but also of himself and his wife, who was with him at the time. Whether this threat was real or whether the officer overreacted should be at the center of the inquiry.

Dogs sometimes engage in rough play. Perhaps rough play was mistaken for a dangerous threat Monday night at the Quail Run community dog park. Perhaps not.

In either case, gunning down a dog seems, on the surface like a severe solution. Nevertheless, all of us, including the many animal lovers in our community, must take a deep breath and await a full accounting of the facts before passing judgment.

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