Los Angeles, CA – Reports today detail the story of a family pet shot by Los Angeles Police Department Officers, as they entered a home at 5800 Willoughby Street in Hollywood while investigating a nearby crime. Officers reportedly left the dog – a Pitbull mix named Kush – to bleed for hours on a bathroom floor. While the details of the incident are still unfolding, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) asserts that a comprehensive pre-entry and post-incident plan could have avoided the incident and/or alleviated the subsequent suffering of the animal.
In fact, spcaLA offers a Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified training course: Dog Behavior for Law Enforcement. The first of its kind in the country, spcaLA’s course provides practical tools to help officers reduce the need for lethal force in dealing with family dogs. “Sometimes, lethal force is the only option and Dog Behavior for Law Enforcement also provides Departments with recommendations how to the mitigate the impact following an incident, such as adopting policies that provide for the immediate care of the dog,” said Captain Cesar Perea, who heads spcaLA’s Animal Cruelty Investigations and developed the course.
In this incident, Kush’s care was not immediately provided for, according to his owner, Brett Kerby. In Kerby’s recounting to media, his 7-year old daughter, grandmother, a friend, and Kush were inside the home while he and Norma Lopez were detained outside. As officers prepared to enter the home, Kerby’s friend offered to remove the dog — the officers refused. A shot rang out, and the couple were told the dog was dead. Kush was, in fact, not dead but left bleeding for almost three hours before receiving medical attention. All the while, the child was present during the dog’s suffering.
spcaLA contends this situation could have been avoided. The officers could have called animal control officers, who are trained to safely detain an animal, or even allowed the friend, who was not being detained by the police, to remove the dog. Furthermore, allowing an animal to suffer and bleed without providing medical attention is inhumane.
The LAPD has offered to pay the medical bills of Kush, which are currently $1000 and growing. However, the family must pay first and then be reimbursed, an expense for which they do not have the funds. “I believe this demonstrates seizure of property and the agency should be responsible for treatment. Forcing the owner to pay for vet care and submit a claim is unfair,” said spcaLA President, Madeline Bernstein. “When an officer shoots a family dog, it is traumatic for everyone – the officer, the dog, the family, and the community – let’s help them all heal by providing for Kush’s care.”
So far, only the family involved in the incident has shared their version of the story and while we wait for the LAPD to provide details of their investigation of the incident, an innocent dog lingers in a city shelter awaiting reconstruction of his jaw. The shooting of Kush is almost a year to the day that a Garden Grove police officer shot and killed Jax, a 2-year-old Pit Bull Terrier, while serving a search warrant.
spcaLA’s Dog Training for Law Enforcement was developed in the wake of another such incident – the shooting of a Rottweiler in Hawthorne, CA which garnered national attention. The course has been taken by the Hawthorne Police Department, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers, Los Angeles County District Attorney Investigators, members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Torrance Police Department, and Hermosa Beach Police Department. spcaLA would welcome the opportunity to provide training to LAPD officers.
spcaLA is the only private animal welfare organization in Los Angeles that is also Law Enforcement. spcaLA Humane Officers hold the same powers of Peace Officers in the state of California when investigating animal cruelty. spcaLA is a non-profit agency that relies on donations for its programs and services, including animal cruelty investigations. To donate, CLICK HERE or call 323-334-4485.