NC Cops Shoot Dog then Gas Him to Death, “Counseled” Not to Gas Pets in Future

In Thomasville NC, police officers are charged with handling animal control duties on weekends.  Last year on Thanksgiving weekend, Thomasville police officer Lee Patton and Cpl. Jeff McCrary responded to a call about an aggressive dog at large.  Officer Patton reportedly shot the dog in the face and shoulder after the dog “charged” him.  The wounded dog ran away but was later located on a nearby street.  Several residents gathered at the scene of the shooting.  In order to protect these residents, the officers loaded up the wounded dog, drove him to the Davidson Co Animal Shelter – operated by the Davidson Co sheriff’s office – stuffed him in the gas chamber and flipped the switch.

Several questions arise:

  • Was lethal force the only option available to the officers when the loose dog “charged”?  Could a catch pole, tranquilizer or non-lethal weapon have been utilized instead?
  • After the wounded dog ran away and was found nearby, was he still a threat to the residents who had gathered at the scene of the shooting?  Would that threat have been eliminated simply by removing the dog from the scene and bringing him to a vet clinic or shelter for care?
  • Did the officers scan the dog for a microchip, examine him for ID tags and tattoos, check lost dog reports, post the dog online or make any effort whatsoever to locate the dog’s owner before gassing him?
  • Did the officers complete the appropriate records in conjunction with the dog’s killing?  Did they verify death using a method prescribed by state law after the gassing cycle was complete?  Did they clean the gas chamber and dispose of the dog’s carcass in accordance with state law?

NC state law dictates that only a “certified euthanasia technician” may kill pets at a shelter and prohibits the gassing of pets who are “near death”.  Neither officer in this case is a certified euthanasia technician.  It is unknown if the dog was near death at the time of gassing but having been shot in the face and been rendered unable to flee more than a block away, it’s certainly a relevant question to my mind.

Shelley Swaim, a state animal welfare technician and Lee Hunter, a veterinarian and the director of the N.C. Veterinary Division’s animal welfare division, investigated the killing.  [Note to readers:  Sit down.  Hold on to something solid.  Remember to breathe.]

[T]he officers didn’t technically violate the code because they are not shelter employees and are not covered by it, Hunter said.

As of a December 27, 2011 letter written by Thomasville Police Chief Jeff Insley, officers are now prohibited from using the gas chamber at the pound.  And:

[T]he two officers who euthanized the dog were counseled about using the shelter’s equipment, including its gas chamber.

So there ya go.  Honestly, the determination that NC state law doesn’t apply to the actions of these officers at the pound because they are not employed by the pound makes the Chewbacca Defense seem well-reasoned and logical.  I fear this finding could be interpreted as an open call to wannabe pet killers to stroll on into any NC pet gassing facility and fulfill their heart’s desire since they too can likely avoid prosecution by claiming they don’t work for the pound.  Assuming they can face the “counseling”, of course.

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12 Comments

  1. Who hires these people? Why do these so-called officers get away with breaking the law? They all ride around with computers in their cars.. all they have to do is Google the question/law before they pull the trigger or flip a switch.

    Reply
  2. I can’t stand this macho mentality toward animals or people. I just can’t. The men in my family (my dad, brother and brothers-in-law) are so NOT like this…..

    Reply
  3. mikken

     /  January 8, 2012

    The original article says that the officers all received instruction in euthanasia – WTH? How about instructing them where the 24/7 emergency clinics are? That way, animals can be scanned, examined, treated, and housed properly until owners can be found. Or properly euthanized by a qualified veterinarian, if the medical need is there.

    It sounds suspiciously like cops are *expected* to kill animals themselves and that is a failure in police leadership.

    Reply
  4. charlene

     /  January 8, 2012

    just the other night, three people, two women and one male took it upon themselves to send what they called a stray cat to the pound. They sent this cat to the pound because they felt it would be better off there than to be free to possibly go home on its own. This cats’ only mistake was being to friendly. I watched as they actually called the local law enforcement to come pick up the cat.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

       /  January 9, 2012

      That is good use of taxpayer dollars-call the police for every stray animal! I am surprised they even showed up-most police will only show up for emergency situations regarding animals!

      Reply
  5. This is the saddest, most ridiculous thing I have read about animal control and/or law enforcement in North Carolina. Today.

    Reply
  6. Cee

     /  January 9, 2012

    &*%$#@ hell.

    Sounds like people who want to get away with other criminal activity would do well in Thomasville NC.

    I had to look up “Chewbacca defense”. I like South Park but haven’t seen all the episodes.

    The Chewbacca defense video link is blocked in Canada.
    Alternate video view, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1QI4P0YqtM

    Explanation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewbacca_defense

    It’s another name for the logical fallacy known as a red herring, “a figurative expression in which a clue or piece of information is or is intended to be misleading, or distracting from the actual question.”

    Reply
  7. Anne

     /  January 9, 2012

    these stories make me physically sick
    In 7 years at the local shelter i’ve only ever been aware of local police shooting a dog once- and after they had shot it, they brought it to us for medical care
    i mean- how is that hard?

    Reply
  8. Sharon

     /  January 19, 2012

    WOW! Because they aren’t shelter employees they can BREAK the law and kill a dog in the process, violating many laws dealing with ownership, identity, safety, and the fact that the dog was NOT a threat when they killed him. If he were, they could NEVER have picked him up to take him to the shelter. If they were human beings, they would have taken him to a VET, where the unjustified shooting of this dog might have been remedied. Perhaps they might have found a microchip. Personally, I think this scum just wanted to kill this poor dog, and it sounds to me like they enjoyed it. Just remember, boys, there’s a place waiting for people like you in Hell.

    Reply
  9. Conor

     /  March 6, 2012

    A) If a dog is endangering a cop and the well being of others, then what is the reasoning for not shooting it?
    B) If a dog has seriously endangered people then why would you waste tax payer’s dollars taking it to a clinic for any reason other than to be humanely euthanized?

    I agree that the officers might not have gone about the situation in the most responsible way, and yes they broke laws which really had no impact on the situations I don’t realize why anyone is even bringing the up. However, I do believe that they did what ultimately needed to be done. People need to learn that such instances and really any animal behavioral issue can be prevented through responsible ownership. I just love all the shelter people out there who think that every domesticated animal needs to be saved. Don’t you realize that this is an entirely vicious cycle and can only lead to more irresponsible dog owners and animals in bad situations?

    Reply

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