A smoking gun

CITY AFFAIRS: We are unable to make sense of a UCPD officer's horrific and unjust killing of a dog at People's Park last week.

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The metaphor, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, unfortunately hit too close to home on July 21 at People’s Park.

At 12:14 a.m., while administering a normal patrol of the park, a UCPD officer noticed someone sleeping on the ground. Beside the man was a dog — unleashed, according to UCPD. The dog reportedly approached and jolted at the officer, at which point the officer shot and killed the dog, firing two rounds at man’s best friend.

There is no excuse in this circumstance that justifies the officer’s actions. And there is no plausible alternative that could have ended worse.

We are not questioning the police being at People’s Park, nor are we questioning the officer’s attempt to wake up the man, who should not have been sleeping at the park.

That does not explain why a dog was killed.

So the dog “jolted on the officer with teeth drawn,” according to Capt. Margo Bennett. How else would you expect a dog to react when a stranger approaches its owner? And isn’t “teeth drawn” sort of a dog’s natural state? Like the police officer, the dog was probably just scared.

Using a gun is an extreme measure, one that should be used responsibly and rationally and rarely. A dog “jolting” — which means, literally, to push or shake abruptly and roughly — does not warrant the discharge of a firearm. There are a number of other ways the officer could have defended himself from the dog, from tasering to kicking. Any other response would have been better.

How is shooting and killing the dog the best solution? How does that rectify the situation? We ask these questions because, frankly, we can’t think of a single logical answer.

The police officer did not need a gun to protect himself from the dog. The officer was not even harmed, despite all that “jolting” and teeth drawing.

There is no way for the police to make amends. At the very least, though, UCPD should admit fault and review procedures for animal disturbances. The police should know how to deal with People’s Park and the transient community by now.

The police are supposed to protect and serve the public. Apparently, dogs are not part of that.