I'm normally pretty sympathetic to the Milwaukee Police Department, but shooting 400 dogs in the last ten years strikes me as rather excessive. And this story doesn't make me more sympathetic to their position.
Certain facts are not in dispute, according to court records and attorneys in the case.
On the evening of Aug. 15, 2004, officers went at Viilo's home in the 2200 block of S. 20th St., looking for a wanted man they were told had a pit bull, police said. They didn't find their subject and Viilo said she didn't know him, according to her attorneys.
Officer Carter had prepared for the possible arrest by arming himself with a shotgun because, as he later said, "the best weapon for a dog is a shotgun through my experience."
As the officers approached the front door, Viilo, some guests and Bubba were in the backyard. Bubba barked and jumped over a fence and ran toward the officers, police said. Carter fired twice, hitting the dog at least once, and fracturing his front leg. The dog retreated under some bushes.
Viilo doesn't dispute the reasonableness of Carter's first shots, noting the "difficult decisions that police officers face in the line of duty," but contends the subsequent two shots were not necessary and were wrong.
In city documents, Viilo acknowledged Bubba had a history of jumping over the 3½-foot fence, which had carpeting on it to protect the dog's belly.
According to court records:
After Bubba was shot the first time, Viilo tried to get to her dog and call for a veterinarian, but police denied her attempts. By the time Sgt. Eyre arrived five to 10 minutes later, a crowd had gathered and some people were yelling to officers that Bubba was not a bad dog.
Eyre approached the bushes where Bubba was hiding. Eyre said the dog came out toward the officers, showing his teeth and growling.
Eyre said he feared for his safety and drew his handgun, but decided not to shoot because the bullet might have ricocheted. Eyre ordered Carter to shoot Bubba with the shotgun, then ordered a second shot, the fourth in all, which killed the animal.
After the shooting, police wrote Viilo a $122 ticket for letting Bubba run loose.
If the officer had time to debate what weapon he was going to use, how could his safety be in danger? And then to issue a ticket? And why do the police automatically carry shotguns to kill dogs instead of different animal control tools? Anyone ever hear of tranquilizer darts? If they're good enough for bears, I think they're good enough for a pit bull. At a pace of forty dogs per year, the police department needs to rethink their pooch-killing policies.
Or hire less cat lovers.