New Nevada Law Could Hold Police Accountable

(DOGS/ANIMAL BEHAVIOR/PETS) LAS VEGAS – More U.S. citizens are beginning to question the actions of their police force in response to the growing number of dog deaths at the hands of police officers.

State legislatures are responding by providing police officers with appropriate training on how to identify animal behavior.

Like many cities around the country, the North Las Vegas Police are being criticized for their use of lethal force.

People area taking issue with the many stories of police shooting dogs.
A proposed Nevada law is cracking down on police violence toward dogs. Photo Credit: Facebook

“The numbers of shootings are growing substantially,” Nevada State Senator David Parks said.

This year, North Las Vegas Police have shot nine dogs; all but two of them died.

Nevada’s new law reflects Colorado’s Dog Protection Act, which was instituted last May. The prospective law, campaigned by animal rights advocate Gina Greisen makes humane training mandatory for Nevada State Police.

Greisen is the leader of Nevada Voters for Animals, the force behind the 2011 Cooney’s Law, which asks for felony charges against malicious animal abusers.

In order to make the law a reality, Greisen is getting a jump on the campaign saying, “The next legislative session isn’t until Feb 2015 but we’re starting early to build support and let police know we are watching and demanding change.” 

City resident Ed Wheeler recently lost his dog, Miracle, to Las Vegas police, and the tragedies don’t stop there. Las Vegas police have been plagued with a number of indiscretions recently, leading to deaths of both innocent citizens, pets, and officers.

Back in May, an Australian shepherd named Freckles died when an officer hit him with his cruiser. The officer contended that he was trying to keep the dog from approaching a group of children.

Freckles’ companion, SarahRose Hecht, spent over $1,000 in veterinary bills to save her dog, but poor Freckles didn’t make it.

Hecht believes the whole tragedy could have been avoided saying, “I have no doubt my dog would still be alive if the officer had one iota of training on dog behavior and dog psychology.”

Las Vegas police have also had difficulty protecting their own officers. In August, rescue officer David VanBuskirk died when he fell from a helicopter during an operation. VanBuskirk was part of Las Vegas’ air support section, a group that was under investigation when the accident occurred.

At the time of VanBuskirk’s accident, Vegas air units were deemed reckless and had come under strict criticism from within the department.

Additionally, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is facing budgetary issues and a lack of funding, which isn’t making it any easier to fix the internal issues in the department.

Rod Jett, a former LVMPD undersheriff, believes, “A police organization is only as effective as the level of confidence that the public has in it.”

Jett’s statement rings true, and until the department begins making changes, these tragedies will only persist.

Take a look at KTNV’s report on police abuse towards animals below, and check out Nevada Voters for Animals’ Facebook page.