Michael Paxton, a 40-year-old lab technician in Austin, Texas, says he was playing with his Australian Cattle Dog, named Cisco, when a police officer pulled into his driveway. Cisco ran to the officer barking and the officer shot him within seconds.
“I told the officer, you know, don’t shoot my dog cause I knew the dog was going to run forward towards us,” Paxton said. “He (Cisco) ran to the officer’s feet; the officer shot him and killed him.”
Paxton says he is traumatized by the events; Cisco was like his child. “It’s a very painful loss for me,” he commented, adding that Cisco had never attacked anyone.
The officer was responding to a call about a woman being allegedly held against her will and fighting outside at the address given. Understandably, the officer was on full alert and assumed at first that Paxton was part of the altercation.
From a recording made at the scene, and played on a local affiliate, the officer can be heard yelling, “Show me your hands! Show me your hands! Hey, get your dog!” and then a shot is heard. An exchange between the officer and Paxton ensues, and the officer is heard asking Paxton why he didn’t get his dog.
“You pulled a gun out … and told me to put my hands up. What am I supposed to do?” Paxton replies according to the recording.
Sgt. David Daniels, a police spokesman said the shooting was deemed justified and that police policy allows for officers to use deadly force to neutralize any animal they come across that appears to pose an imminent safety threat.
“We encounter dogs all the time,” Daniels said. “This is not the first dog that we’ve shot. … It’s unfortunate. We’ve apologized to the gentleman -- not for the fact the officer did anything wrong -- but the fact that his dog was killed.”
Daniels claims that Cisco “charged” out at the officer aggressively, though Paxton disputes that. In a highly emotional situation such as this, body language by either dog or man can easily be misunderstood. Although dogs can have the habit of “charging” out the front door to check out a visitor, such behavior can easily be interpreted to be threatening by those who don’t know the dog.
Paxton says he is not out to make trouble for the police but would like to see improvements in police policy about how to handle animals in such situations, including providing a clear definition of what behavior is “threatening” to “clarify the gray area that there seems to be.”
Image Source Wikimedia Commons