Nevada State Sen. David Parks wants justice for Freckles.
Freckles, an Australian shepherd, was killed after being hit by a Las Vegas police cruiser in May when an officer thought the dog was an impending threat to a group of children. Freckles isn't alone: State animal activists believe that 30 dogs have been needlessly killed by police in the past five years, although the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department disputes that number.
So now, Parks, armed with activist support, is looking to introduce legislation during the next legislative session to help solve the problem. While the bill is still in its infancy, the idea is to help train police officers to handle dogs without resorting to violence. "In many instances, a dog is being territorial, not vicious," Parks told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It would help if police knew what category of dog they were dealing with."
Police violence against dogs isn't just peculiar to Nevada. On Sunday, dog owners in Commerce City, Colo., marked the anniversary of the shooting death of a dog named Chloe by police. Parks is looking at the fallout from that shooting as a guide for his state. After that death, Colorado passed the Dog Protection Act, which was signed into law this May.
The act, which was the first legislation nationwide to address police violence against dogs, requires sheriff's offices and police departments to give three hours of online training on dog behavior, and to instruct officers on nonviolent ways to deal with the animals. The bill passed the Colorado Legislature with no opposition. "This is a bipartisan day for dogs," a Republican sponsor of the bill said upon its signing into law.
As strange as it may sound, this kind of legislation, while currently rare, could be on its way to national acceptance. Patrick Reasonover, an activist filmmaker, contends that a pet dog is killed by police every 98 minutes—very little public data on nationwide deaths is currently available to back that number up or knock it down. It may be difficult to get legislation passed anywhere in America right now. But if there's one issue that can unite politicians of all stripes, it may be that everyone is against dead dogs.