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Bill aims to reduce number of dogs shot by officers

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Updated: 2/04 10:53 am

ATLNTA (WSB-TV) -- A new bill is aimed at curbing the number of dogs killed by Georgia police officers during stops and calls.

House Bill 803, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Benton, R – Jefferson, would require police officers to undergo training to deal with animals encountered during stops so that they use the least amount of force necessary to control the situation.

“In a residential neighborhood, when an officer pulls a firearm, it needs to be the last resort,” said Matthew Rodriquez, who said his dog, Jane, was shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer last November.

The police officer claimed the dog was aggressively running at him. Rodriquez said the dog was just running over to say “hello.”

“Without hesitation, he turned around and shot her right in the head, with my wife standing right in the line of his fire,” said Rodriquez. Atlanta police said the investigation into Jane’s death is still ongoing.

Rodriquez, along with thousands of dog lovers on Facebook, is urging lawmakers to sign off on the legislation, which has been passed in a handful of other states.

According to a Channel 2 Action News investigation, nearly 100 dogs were killed by police officers in the metro Atlanta area, between 2010 and 2012.

“So, we can stop it from every happening again in Georgia,” said Rodriquez.

Benton said the bill is not meant to prohibit law enforcement from using deadly force against animals.

“I am not saying they cannot use deadly force. We are not saying that, in the bill, we are just asking that not be the first choice,” said Benton. “Maybe just an hour (of training) to get it in their mind to think about using something else besides the gun to stop an animal.”

Benton said no one came out against the bill during a hearing last week. Although, one law enforcement official did propose that local law enforcement agencies set the guidelines on a department by department basis.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

calgarth - 2/14/2014 1:36 AM
0 Votes
So because dog owners refuse to train their fleabags to obey voice commands, the taxpayers of the state of Georgia must pay for "extra" training for law enforcement officers? Almost every such incident could be avoided if people would simply train their DOGS! When a dog threatens an officer, he has every right to protect himself and if a dog cannot be "called off" by its owner, it is the owner's, not the officer's, fault when the dog is killed.

Realchange - 2/4/2014 10:42 PM
0 Votes
Case will be whitewashed. Even if the officer is let go he will simply go one county over and reapply 6 mos later and have the same job in another county. Something the average citizen is not told about police hiring practices.

wishmistress - 2/4/2014 12:31 PM
2 Votes
An average person in someone's home would not attempt to shoot the owner's dog. You allow the owner to restrain the dog while keeping your cool. Unfortunately, there are too many trigger happy cops out there making bad choices. What if the bullet had hit the owners or their child? Too bad we have to constantly make laws to attend to common sense.--------------------BTW, ActionNewsJax...People HATE videos that roll automatically!
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