Aug 31 2007
05:32 am

Knoxville Police Department officers shoot dog after attack. Dog's owners call the shooting needless. Story here (link...)

This matter seems to warrant some discussion. It involves pit bulls, which have been the subject in a number of cities. I sometimes feel sorry for responsible pit bull breeders and owners who treat their dogs with proper care. These dogs are more aggressive by nature, but so are other breeds.

I note the dog in question (as well as one other pit bull dog at the house) was 'tethered to a steel cable', which appears from the photos means tied up to a tree. I also note an igloo-style dog house, which is what these dogs appear to have for shelter. The owner says he raised the dog to be a watchdog. Seems to me there's a difference between a watchdog and an attack dog.

We have three dogs (two labradors and a shih tzu), all of which bark if they saw someone walking into our yard. So, to that extent they are watchdogs. There's no question if someone comes around the house. I don't believe any one of them would bite. The labradors are big and can sound mean. We have visitors all the time, with nary a problem.

I understand not everyone treats their dogs like my wife and I do. We have plenty of room. They are outside during the day, unless it's too hot or cold. They are inside otherwise. The biggest decision they face is to sleep on the deck by the pool or under the shade trees. We have underground electronic fencing. But, it seems to me these owners may have contributed to the problem. How much socialization did these dogs have? Why did the dog apparently not bark and bite without being provoked? There are lots of questions in this story.

bizgrrl's picture

I have been pondering this

I have been pondering this incident. I wonder how police officers are trained to handle dog situations. I am sure it was frightening for the police officers. Was shooting the dog warranted? I doubt it. Were the dogs being treated by their owners as I would wish dogs should be treated? I doubt it. Tethering is not a good idea, IMO, unless you are out there with your dog to watch over them.

Ennui's picture

I agree with both those

I agree with both those points. From what I've read, the dog did not need to be seems that the policeman that was bitten was a rookie, but the KNS reports the other officer(that fired) is a veteran. I'm curious why the police went around the backyard as well.

It does appear however, that the owners of the dogs weren't the best pet owners. Not surprising the dog would go aggressive like that.

CBT's picture

Lots of details to come,

Lots of details to come, but...

You get bit by the pit bull, the dog lunges and bites your partner and you shoot to protect your partner. Maybe not when all the facts are in, but at first blush there does seem to be a possible reason to shoot the dog.

Ennui's picture

I was hoping that after the

I was hoping that after the Cookeville PD shot that dog along I-40 a while back that law enforcement across the state would be proactive and look for ways to address situations like this.

R. Neal's picture

I'm still trying to figure

I'm still trying to figure out how you get bitten by a chained up dog.

Anyway, the same thing happened over here in Blount Co. a couple of weeks ago. Another pit bull. An Animal Control Officer told me it's a growing safety problem for them and other police officers. Apparently there are neighborhoods where there is illegal activity going on (not suggesting that is the case here) and pit bulls are being posted as sentry/guard dogs.

local_yokel's picture

This story doesn't hold water

The dog was in the backyard, under a "Beware of Dog" sign. That should have been the first clue for the policemen. And what the heck were they doing approaching the BACK door to talk to the home owner??

You'd think that if the police wanted in your back yard, they'd first ring your FRONT doorbell and ask permission. Then you could warn them that there are 2 dogs, let them know they are on a 30-foot tether, and maybe even go facilitate (if you can put your baby down for a moment). I have nothing to hide, but still I really wouldn't feel comfortable with the police helping themselves to a look-see of my private grounds unannounced and don't think my dog would be much friendlier. I mean, people have watch dogs so people can't sneak up on them. Dogs can't tell whether you are a good guy or bad guy from your uniform. Why invite trouble by approaching by the rear where the dogs are instead of the front, like polite folk?

Justin's picture

You gotta love how the dogs

You gotta love how the dogs were tied up to a tree with a steel chain...class act...must be really nice owners. I wonder how the owner would feel if he were tied up to a tree with nothing but dirt to sleep on and a 10 foot circle to move around in? Not that I'm the "dog whisperer" but I would assume that any animal chained to a tree 24/7 will get defensive when someone comes into their territory when its chained to a f$%^& tree for its entire life and has no where to run to when it gets scared. Just sayin'.

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated" Mahatma Ghandi

Joe328's picture

Beware of Dog

A sign in the yard said "beware of dog," and the dog was tethered to a tree on private property. If someone climbs over the fence at the zoo, are they justified in killing a caged animal? I wish pit bulls were outlawed, but until it happens, I support the citizens who own and keep them restrained.

The KNS also has a story about an officer who is charged with 23 counts of burglary. Monday, another officer is charged with assaulting his girlfriend. In the past year three THP officers are charged with shooting someone during an off duty argument. In the last year Tennessee has had several police officers charged with serious felonies. I don't think the real problem is vicious dogs, but the need to improve police officers.

R. Neal's picture

I think that many local

I think that many local ordinances allow police and animal control officers to enter someone's property without a warrant to investigate suspected animal abuse. It doesn't sound like that was the case here, but it is the law in many places. Our local government wanted to also give them authority to enter a building without a warrant, but we got them to change that.

CBT's picture

I don't know exactly how

I don't know exactly how this house is situated, but that may have something to do with why they went to the back door. I'd be interested to see the front entry and how the driveway, house and rear entry is situated. The story indicates the officers located a vehicle at the house which was suspected to have been involved in a hit and run crime. So, there appears to be some probable cause to ask some questions.

I don't know if the officers saw the sign or chained up dogs. The story indicates the dog that attacked the officers came from around the house and attacked without warning. I'll reserve judgment on the officers until we have more facts.

Joe328's picture

Officer Coffey

A post on the KNS website indicates that Officer Coffey has killed a man in past, and has been reported for police abuse several times.

talidapali's picture

Having lived in that neighborhood...

for a few years while I was taking care of my grandmother who had various health problems, but wanted to continue to live in her own home, I know how the houses are situated.

My guess is the police officers came up the alley between the houses that face Chickamauga Avenue and the houses that face Hiwassee Avenue. They were looking for a car that had been involved in a hit and run earlier in the day (according to the news story). They spotted a car that matched the description in that yard.

Common sense tells me that 1) they should have radioed for back up and waited for it to arrive (they had sight of the car...they would have been able to see it leave) and 2) after their back-up arrived, they should have gone to the front door to inquire about the car and see if they could speak with the driver or some knowledgeable person about it while the back-up watched the back of the house and the car without entering the yard (since there WAS a sign that said "Beware of Dog" posted...and I can't seriously believe the city is hiring police officers without basic reading comprehension skills). Just because you don't see the dog right off is no excuse to simply ignore the fair warning given by the sign.

While I don't like pit bulls and wish that they were not such a popular breed, no animal deserves to be killed for reacting to a threat in their territory as their instincts dictate. Especially when the home owner has taken measures to insure that innocent persons will not be in danger in case of accidental trespass. It probably would have been better if they had had a very good sturdy fence about six feet high around the back yard, instead of having to restrain the dog with a cable tie-out. But, knowing that neighborhood, some folks there just don't have that kind of money.

"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

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