An Open Letter to the Metro Police

Dear Nashville Metro Police Department,

I will not be sending you this letter because I am afraid of the police.  But, if I were to send it, I would be sending it because of the comments of Metro police Captain Jason Reinbold, who oversees your training division, in this news article here.

Since you all are, like most police departments, adopting an informal policy of shooting people’s pets when you come on their property in order to protect yourselves from them, Captain Reinbold has some recommendations for folks who might want to prevent their pets from being your victims.

He says

Signs warning that a dog is on the premises, a locked fence and a lead that doesn’t give the dog too much leeway all help, Reinbold said.

And I would just like to point out that the Police Department is now recommending a strategy of dog care in direct opposition to what the ASPCA and most other animal advocates recommend (please see this article from the Humane Society).

Dogs should not be tethered in someone’s back yard unattended, at all, period.  It makes them aggressive.  And you all are apparently determined to shoot dogs that appear to you to be aggressive.  And you are recommending a course of action to people that you say will help prevent you from shooting their dogs, when really, because the thing you’re recommending makes dogs aggressive, it’s actually going to increase the likelihood of you shooting our dogs.

Nashville has a humane association and a number of vets and pet lovers of all sorts.  Perhaps it might benefit you to have a few of them come by and talk to the police not only about how to tell if a dog is aggressive and how to deal with aggressive dogs but also to advise you on the advice you might give to the general public.

And please keep in mind that shooting people’s dogs does not exactly do much to alleviate the general distrust people have of the police.  We have dogs, even seemingly aggressive dogs because we have taken to heart the lessons of court decisions such as Castle Rock v. Gonzales which say that the police have no obligation to protect us, that we cannot legally count on you to show up when we need you.

With that being the case, many of us have turned to such lines of self-defense as scary dogs.  We are aware that we may have to fend for ourselves.

We are already afraid of what might happen if you decide not to come.  Please don’t make us afraid of what might happen if you do.

Respectfully Yours,

Aunt B.

40 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Metro Police

  1. Not that I ever expect visits from the PD, but one of my biggest fears is that something would happen (especially if I wasn’t home) and one or more of my dogs would get shot in the process. Or same thing with burglars. Not that any burglar in their fool mind would come in here with the cacophony of barking that would start before they ever touched the door.

    Even more so it concerns me that the PD could come in here by mistake – we all read time and time again it happens they go to the wrong address – and same deal.

    Probably goes without saying if any of my dogs were to get killed in either scenario, whatever PD is responsible will have a major lawsuit on their hands and I will sue for the maximum I can.

    Granted, I have multiple dogs and they are large, and I know that can be frightening for people who don’t know them or are just people who are afraid of dogs. But none of them are capable of hurting a person. One maybe, but I think he would only do such a thing if someone was attacking me. They simply aren’t really capable, especially the oldest one and the female. As for the three boys, they’re scrappers sometimes with each other and with a dog that wandered into their territory once (same dog they could care less about if he’s not in their back yard), but I’ve had my hands in the middle of their occasional dog fights and two of them can’t even really bite.

    I can understand the concern walking into somewhere where there’s no one there but the dogs and you can’t know a dog’s not going to hurt you, but I’d still sue.

    And you’d better believe if I’m here and telling them to chill out, the dogs aren’t going to touch them, and they shoot them anyway? That’s a million or more dollar lawsuit right there.

  2. It sounds stupid, but my dog is very aggressive. He’s also half chihuahua, half rat terrier (hence, the reason he’s aggressive.) I’d hate to think that the PD would shoot my dog.

    But this is why I keep him shut in my bedroom whenever I’m not home. As long as nobody goes in my bedroom, everything’s fine. Of course, he’d be even safer if I crated him, but he hates that shit.

  3. If you come on my property and shoot my dog, I will shoot you back.

    Because you can shoot me, arrest me, send me to jail and even put me in the damned electric chair, but nothing—NOTHING–will kill me deader than if you kill my dog.

    That’s just how it is around here.

    Oh, and

    IT’S MY FUCKING PROPERTY, YOU SHITWEASEL. There should be NO FUCKING REASON for me to have to chain my dog up on my property to protect YOU when you COME ON TO MY PROPERTY.


  4. And Kat, something just rubs me entirely the wrong way about the implied, “Live every moment of your life as if the police might drop by, even mistakenly or for no good reason.”

  5. Anybody know of the outcome of a case where someone sued the police for shooting their dog. For some reason, I think the payout would be low.

    Ditto what Kat-on-Nyquil said. You come through my door, you better have your affairs in order.

  6. Pingback: SayUncle » They always shoot the dog

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  8. What Kat said.

    A person has a better chance of surviving burning my shop to the ground than he does of shooting my dogs while letting me live.

  9. Well, this won’t be popular…and, yes, I have said for quite some time that modern day police avoid risk in ways that puts civilians in danger….

    That said, I’m scratching my head at the heat over this when not long ago, on a similar caper, the police burst in the wrong house and shot an old lady dead, and only EX to my knowledge put up much of a fuss. (I may be wrong, and apologies if I am)

    I love my dogs too, but I’ll take a dead dog over a dead innocent person.

  10. The woman in Atlanta? Only Ex and 7/8ths of the known blogosphere. Everyone was outraged over that.

    And why does the choice have to be dead innocent dog over dead innocent person? Why don’t the police take pains to not kill innocent beings?

  11. And B, don’t forget that if you don’t know of and speak out about every single thing, then your views on the one thing are diminished. Ahem.

  12. Lynnster,

    I doubt that you’d really have any grounds for a significant lawsuit if the police shot your dog. While many people view their pets as family, I’m pretty sure they’re still legally viewed as property.

    However, I would like to add to that by pointing out that I’m right there with Katherine on how I would react to someone shooting my dog. Even more so because the only threatening thing she might do to anyone on our property, criminal or cop, is bring a toy over and try to goad them into a game of keep away. Anyone that can shoot a dog as sweet and loving as my lab is a monster that deserves to die.

  13. Right on Katherine!

    Since when did wearing a badge empower cops to be disrespectful of people’s property? And that’s exactly what dogs are, private property, ON private property!

    In my opinion shooting a homeowner’s pet is no different than torching the house and I would’nt be surprised to see cops start to do that too.


    Exactly! If I didnt call you or you dont have warrent with the RIGHT ADDRESS then you have no business being there!

  14. Laughingdog,

    I guarantee you if the police shoot any of my dogs when they are tied up/tethered? I’m suing the city (or county, wherever I may be) for everything they’ve got.

    If shot when untethered I will still sue, though I realize the potential is likely less.

  15. Shooting dogs is S.O.P. as a way for urban cops to create terror during drug raids, but according to NYPD reports, Black- and Latino-owned dogs (and dogs in housing project yards) are much more likely to be killed than dogs owned by whites. (Pit bulls most likely to be killed, then rotts, then german sheps.) White officers fire almost 80% of the shots in NYC and most of those shots go into dogs. (Don’t know the Nashville numbers — the Village Voice did an expose on dog-killing in NYC earlier this summer.) You can do that math.

    Killing a dog is an assertion of mastery. Southerners have been going berserk when people kill their dogs (which they understand to be simultaneously property and family…hmmm…is this ringing any bells for anyone?) for the last 300 years.

  16. Bridgett, speaking as a middle-class Southern white male, former owner of an APBT that lived to be 16 (kinda pampered)…yes, you’re right: we “go berserk” when folks kill our dogs. They’re family, the intruder isn’t.
    We also happen to have a history of people coming onto our property & committing atrocities just because we wanted to exercise our rights; say early 1862 & after.

  17. True enough and that’s a good historical contextualization. However, the regionally distinctive way that southern men reacted the killing of pets (and the targeting of pets and livestock, and the understanding that killing dogs and cows was a slightly less murderous way of terrorizing unwanted populations) predates the Civil War by at least a hundred years. What do you make of that?

  18. Seriously? Does anyone want to dispute that a full grown boxer showing aggressive signs is not scary? Even to a man with a gun? Shooting or sueing an officer for that is waaaay too much. How the hell does a stranger know your dogs aren’t capable of hurting them? I do grant that someone should have paid the ladies vet bills. That’s the least they could do.

    The officer had every right to be on her property. He was called by her alarm company. She knew the alarm company would call the police. He had an explicit invitation to be in her yard beyond the implied on that an officer has when investigating a potential crime.

    I agree the officer was being overly aggressive and handled it poorly, but this was a tragic accident. If you want to point blame then point blame on the emphasis of police departments on overly agressive training and their own safety at the expense of all non-officers. Mack is very right about that.

  19. W, the dog was tethered in the garage. any armed man scared of a dog tethered in a space the armed man has no particular need to go, is not competent to be armed.

    we don’t shoot prisoners who get aggressive while in their prison cells, even though they’re far more dangerous than this dog could possibly have been. grow a sense of perspective.

    nor was this any “accident”. that officer deliberately pulled the trigger, after having deliberately decided to kill a dog he could easily have walked away from. nothing accidental about it.

  20. Okay, let me get this right. Assuming the Tennessean is right (ahem):

    1. Dog hitched and asleep in garage.
    2. Cop enters property at behest of alarm company, goes somewhere near garage.
    3. Dog hears intruder, raises hell.
    4. Cop shoots dog.
    5. Distraught owner raises hell.

    What happened to step 3.5, cop realizes dog is present, backs out of the garage at a high rate of speed and goes around to the front door and knocks like he should have in the first place? (Insert cruel-but-amusing visual of dog getting clotheslined at the end of the tether, jaws snapping at air just alongside cop’s butt.)

    When our alarm has been triggered, the officers have NOT gone around back, through the fence, up on the patio, and knocked on the back door. They beat on the front door until we answered. They’ve done that with our neighbors, too. (We hear these things in the middle of the night, you know. It’s quiet out here in the county.)

    I have been on drug raids, warrant service and various other meet-the-public-in-less-than-preferable-circumstances police situations. Nerves, fatigue and testosterone can lead to some very bad situations very quickly, which is why officers should not be trained to resort to deadly force as a FIRST resort, whether it’s a dog or a person. I know they have only a split second to save their own lives or the lives of innocents. I also know that they are, generally, smart guys and gals. But to essentially be training these smart men and women to shoot a dog that appears in the least way threatening is not the way to go.

    And I, too, would be firing back at anybody that came on my property and shot my dog. A sonovagun who shall remain nameless found that out about my family the hard way when we were kids and he decided he was going to shoot my dog because, he claimed, my dog had been running his cattle. (My dog was hitched when he was outside, in a fenced area, with OUR few cattle, when he was not with us. And yes, this was many decades ago, when all of us lived in the woods and no one lived anywhere else and we didn’t know you shouldn’t hitch dogs.) Mr. Sonuvagun showed up at our gate with a shotgun to “shoot that blankety-blank cowardly thieving mutt” (who was in the house with us, going “HEY! SOMEBODY’S OUT THERE CUSSING AND REARING, Y’ALL! YOU WANT I SHOULD GO OUT AND BITE HIM? SERIOUSLY, I WILL”).

    Daddy tried to reason with the fellow (while we held Boy back in the kitchen), but to no avail. He finally had to go get the shotgun and tell the fellow to go home before we had to call the sheriff. The *actual* blankety-blank cowardly thieving mutt was caught in the act a couple of days later and suffered a sad fate (because HIS stupid owner didn’t keep him up).

    Again, I don’t care if it’s a cop, a priest or the president. You show up in my yard unannounced and uninvited and show any sort of overt hostility or violence to any of the living creatures in that dwelling, expect to be gathering your assorted pieces up out of the driveway like Wile E. Coyote.

    Because I inherited the shotgun.

  21. P.S. to Bridget (and sorry for bogarting your bandwidth, B; you know how I get about pets): Considering the national origins of many white folks in the South and the centuries of livestock destruction as a tool of intimidation and economic devastation by whomever was wanting to prove a point some particular day in Ireland and Scotland, I imagine we could say the Southern male reaction to unwarranted dog-shootin’ is a Celtic thang.

    (Which, of course, wouldn’t be completely accurate, since destruction of property — including livestock and pets — has been a tool of intimidation and war ever since a bunch of guys first decided they wanted to live where those other guys were already living.)

  22. Yeah, that has been my guess — but I always like to blame shit on the Tudors and Stuarts if I can. That, and a century of attacking Cherokee cows and dogs and towns because upland southerners couldn’t find Cherokee people.

  23. Heh. We can blame it all on that drunken fop Devereaux. Elizabeth shoulda hanged him when she had the chance.

    I bet she wouldn’t have shot his dogs, though. (Oh, now I’m thinking of Mary Stuart’s little dog and I’m sad again.)

  24. Are y’all serious about killing the neighbors’ livestock? What is the matter with people? Why not just steal the sheep or cows or whatever and take them home with you the way they used to do in Iberia? Talk about uncivilized.

  25. I agree the officer was being overly aggressive and handled it poorly, but this was a tragic accident.

    If the police pulling a trigger while aiming at a target is ever an “accident”, God help us all.

    As for the other stuff from bridgett and grandefille–I do think it’s a Celtic thing.

  26. Hah — I knew that having the Visigoths come and invade improved the general cultural level. Iberians cattle raided all the time. For a couple of centuries before 1492 especially, most of the border warfare between states was more like organized cattle rustling than like sustained military campaigns, and before the mid-13th century it was a great way to move up the social ladder. But, seriously, I thought Celts raided each other’s cattle, too. Not that they’d just come by and kill the livestock.

  27. The clans have gone to war for less.

    Why among my people there was the Trouble in the Western Isles of 1586 and of 1601 as well as the battle of Tuiteam Tarbhach.

  28. The English spent a couple of centuries trying to get the Irish to abandon transhumance and their sheep herds and take up “civilized” cattle cultivation instead. Then they spent another three centuries killing their cattle to punish Celtic insubordination. What do they do when they come to the British colonies? They spend a century critiquing coastal Indians for not adopting livestock, then killing their stock as a way to punish them when they get too successful at cattle herding. (If you’re interested in this story, you should pick up a copy of Virginia Anderson’s *Creatures of Empire*…great stuff…)

    Naw, if you want major sophisticated cattle and sheep raiding (rather than killing), you have to go to the trans-Mississippi in the 18th and 19th century. Brian DeLay’s and Pekka Hamalainen’s research suggests that the Comanche Empire was virtually unparalleled in the Americas for the audacity and success of their stock raids and their success made them the owners of the biggest herds in North America in the 1840s.

  29. The Comanches? I gotta check that out. If I read just one book, should it be Hamalainen’s The Comanche Empire?

    Iberians did so much cattle raiding that the word for cattle is now “winnings” (ganado).

  30. Yeah, I’d go with Hamalainen’s book for the earlier period. DeLay’s more interested in the 19th century, especially the Comanche’s role in the Mexican-American War. He’s written many good articles, but the last I looked, his book (*War of a Thousand Deserts*) isn’t due out for a couple of months. Since we have some military historians among us now, I just want to point out that Brian’s really interested in border warfare and arms dealing and so I expect from the articles that he’s released that this will be a very interesting rethinking of the diplomatic and military history of the antebellum US.

    And if that touches off a desire to go whole hog into southwestern Indian history, I must plug Ned Blackhawk’s *Violence over the Land,* which was the best book I read last year, with Kathleen DuVal’s The Native Ground coming a close second. You might like both of these because of the Iberian connection.

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