(ANIMAL WELFARE) TEXAS — An Austin police officer stands accused of fatally shooting a man’s dog while responding to the wrong address on a domestic disturbance call. The officer’s use of deadly force has been defended as being within the officer’s right, and only recently has he been temporarily transferred and pulled off the street, but has not been suspended. Yet, this is not the first time a domestic animal has been wrongly shot to death by a police officer. The problem is: officers typically do not receive instruction in animal behavior, which can lead them to misinterpret a non-threatening dog’s intentions as hostile. All too often, these officers resort to lethal force when other options are available (i.e. pepper spray or calling animal control). Unfortunately, until more police departments start teaching their officers how to deal with animals, this will not be the last dog to be victimized by cops. Friends of Cisco and his guardian have created a Facebook page dubbed Justice for Cisco where over 50,000 supporters have demonstrated their support. Read on to learn more about the story and show your support by signing the petition, or on the Justice for Cisco Facebook page. — Global Animal
ABC News, Christina Ng
A Texas man claims that his beloved dog Cisco was shot point blank by a police officer who responded to a call at the wrong address.
Michael Paxton, 40, said he and his Australian cattle dog Cisco were relaxing and playing Frisbee in his Austin backyard on Saturday afternoon when he decided to go get something from his truck in the driveway.
As he approached his truck, he said he saw something from the corner of his eye and looked up to see a police officer who immediately drew his weapon and told Paxton to put his hands up.
“He had a Taser. He had pepper spray. I don’t understand why, in broad daylight, he pulled a gun on me. I wasn’t running. I wasn’t hiding,” Paxton told ABCNews.com today. “I was just saying, ‘I live here.’ I was panicking. I was afraid for my life.”
Paxton said he heard Cisco, who weighed about 50 pounds, barking and coming towards him from the backyard.
“I said, ‘Don’t shoot him. Don’t shoot my dog. He won’t bite you.’ But he shot him, just like that. It all happened in under 30 seconds,” Paxton said. “There was no attack on the officer other than barking and challenging him.”
Austin Police Cpl. Anthony Hipolito told ABCNews. com that the officer did respond to the wrong address, but it was the address provided by the 911 call. The call came from the house next to Paxton’s.
Hipolito said that dashcam footage shows the dog barking and attacking the officer.
“The officer was basically in retreat and asked the owner to grab the dog,” Hipolito said. “He was unable to and the dog continued to attack and that’s when the officer discharged his firearm.”
An apology was issued at the scene, according to Hipolito, but Paxton said no one apologized to him.
“Officers have to do everything they can to protect themselves, up to and including the use of deadly force,” Hipolito said. “It’s something that we don’t ever want to do. To shoot and kill an animal is very unfortunate and tragic. The officer is distraught and did not want to do it, but at the same time, he had to protect himself.”
As a shocked and horrified Paxton stared down at his dog’s lifeless body, he said he was confused when the officer started asking him if he had a girlfriend.
“I was saying, ‘You just killed my dog. I can’t believe you just killed my dog. What is going on?'” Paxton recalled.
Paxton said the officer said he was responding to a domestic issue report of a man choking a woman. Paxton does not have a girlfriend and believes the report came from his neighbor’s house.
Paxton said the officer did not apologize and when his sergeant arrived, he was unsympathetic and told Paxton the officer was within his right to shoot the dog. He said he has not heard from the police since the incident.
“I was in shock for probably almost 24 hours,” Paxton said, choking up. “I wasn’t crying at that point, but when I picked my dog up out of the driveway, I lost it.”
Paxton’s friends started a Facebook page called “Justice for Cisco” that has nearly 14,000 supporters. Hundreds of people have left messages of support, outrage and anger.
“How heartbreaking and so uncalled for. Tears just fall for the fallen. So very sorry for your lost over a mistaken address,” one supporter wrote.
Another wrote: “How dare any officer make a mistake & not apologize? If that were a citizen they would be made to apologize immediately. A life was taken & even though some might look at it only being a dog; it was somebody’s pet that they loved dearly.”
“The only thing that has brought me comfort is the response and outpouring of emotion for him,” Paxton said. “I’m sure he heard the yelling. He’s a dog. This is his territory. He’s going to be territorial to some extent. To me, it’s pretty typical dog behavior. He’s not a viscious dog. He was a good boy. He was a real good boy.”