Lubbock Dog Owners Allege Use of Excessive Force by LPD - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/11/07

Lubbock Dog Owners Allege Use of Excessive Force by LPD

NewsChannel 11 is looking into allegations that Lubbock police are using excessive force when it comes to dogs in neighborhoods. We have learned that out of almost 300 aggressive dog calls since January, officers have shot more than a dozen of those dogs.

Over the past month, we have requested the reports of the dog shootings in Lubbock. Those requests also produced over 5 hours of police in-car video showing police shooting dogs. Dog owners say it's excessive, but Lubbock police say it is justified.

In April, Lubbock police shot Hope Galicia's dog. "My dog is real little, she is harmless," Galicia said.

However, Lubbock police saw it differently after being called because Patches was on the loose.

"The dog was loose, and they said she tried to attack them but she wasn't trying to attack them, because she was running away from them. Because if she tried to attack them they would have shot her in the chest or somewhere in the front instead of the back," says Galicia.

Assistant Lubbock Police Chief Dale Holton tells NewsChannel 11 that before acting many times officers wait for Lubbock Animal Services to arrive.

"When officers got there, they either confirmed that the dogs were aggressive or they determine the dogs were not aggressive and they were able to wait for animal control to handle it some other way," Holton adds.

Holton says out of 300 aggressive dog calls since January, deadly force has been used only 15 times.

Lubbock Animal Services Director Kevin Overstreet says animal control officers have, "expressed their concern to me about more animals being shot in the past few months than in the past."

"Someone is concerned about the dogs' behavior and they confirm that when they arrive on the scene and they believe it's necessary to take some action to protect themselves or the public from those dogs," says Holton.

Holton says tranquilizers, tasers and pepper spray do not always take affect right away, leaving the risk of the animal getting away. However, Overstreet says there are many ways to take an animal into custody.

"Animal control officers go out on a dog situation where the animal is being aggressive and public safety is an issue then they have tranquilizer guns that can be utilized and catch poles," Overstreet said. 

NewsChannel 11 spoke with other animal owners who declined to go on camera, but say police were wrong to shoot their dogs over the last few months. Galicia agrees, saying Patches should not have been shot.

"They waited for two hours. They were just right there standing and talking before they came and told us they shot our dog," says Galicia.

NewsChannel 11 spoke with neighbors of some of the dog owners whose animals were killed in the last 2 months. They say that in some cases it was necessary for police to shoot the dogs to protect the public's safety.

We also learned when an officer shoots a person that case goes before a review board, but when an animal is shot only a supervisor reviews the case, not a board.

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