In Merced, CA, police officers are tasked with picking up dead and injured pets in the road. What they do with those animals has recently been made public by the Merced Sun Star:
- Dead pets over 35 pounds are taken to Merced County Animal Control for disposal
- Dead pets under 35 pounds are placed in a dumpster
- Injured pets are left to the officer’s discretion: The officer may choose to drive the pet to a veterinarian for assessment and treatment or, if the officer believes the injured animal has no owner, he may choose to drive the pet to the shooting range.
For those pets whom officers opt to take to the shooting range – about one or two per month – they are shot with shotguns by officers with no training in animal euthanasia. Merced police chief Norm Andrade says pets die with one or two shots from the shotgun.
The officers use “common sense” and get approval from their supervisor before shooting the dog, [Andrade] added.
In addition to this horrifying threat of “common sense”, the Merced police department seems to be laboring under the impression that state law allows for these killings:
According to California Penal Code 597.1, any peace officer can “humanely destroy any stray or abandoned animal” if it is too severely injured to move or where a veterinarian is not available.
My layman’s interpretation of this is to allow for on-the-spot euthanizing of gravely mangled stray animals who are still alive but suffering and can not reasonably be moved to a vehicle for transport to a vet. Merced does not seem to fall under the “no vet available” provision. If my interpretation is correct, any stray animal who can be moved to a vehicle for transport should be taken to a vet, not a shooting range.
But that’s just the law. More importantly, there are animal advocates to be blamed:
“They’re very quick to point the finger on what law enforcement should or shouldn’t do,” Andrade said. “I challenge them – if they want to do something about this problem, why aren’t they out there having numerous meetings with the public about how to care for their animals?”
Hells yeah. If you finger-pointy animal advocates aren’t conducting NUMEROUS MEETINGS with the public about pet care, you have no right to complain about pets being taken to the shooting range for killing by untrained police officers. It’s so obvious! One follows the other. Unquestionably.
Merced does have an ACO licensed to euthanize animals by injection, but he’s all blame-the-public-y:
“If we had more responsible owners keeping their dogs in, this wouldn’t be an issue,” [Merced ACO Kim Herzog] said. Stressing the importance of proper identification tags for dogs, he said, “That’s why I always tell people: Put a collar on your dog. That is your dog’s trip to the vet.”
And if the ID falls off or for whatever reason isn’t on the pet at the time he most needs the kindness of public servants, that’s his trip to the shooting range. You irresponsible bastards.
I don’t want to be overly morbid but I keep coming back to the logistics in my mind. Once the officer arrives at the shooting range with the injured animal, what happens? We know the officer has not been trained in animal euthanasia and we know he’s using a shotgun that doesn’t always kill after the first blast. Do they drape the injured dog over some kind of target or WTF? I can’t wrap my head around it. And the fact that the city’s only trained ACO defends the practice and blames owners is mind boggling. I feel so sorry for any pet owners living in Merced. May your pets never fall into the hands of these sadistic people.
(Thank you Arlene for alerting me to this story.)