How police deal with a barking dog situation - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

How police deal with a barking dog situation

Many questions surfaced after a Bixby family's dog is shot. The News on 6 was first to tell you about Fluppy Sunday night.

The 6 year old golden retriever had to be put to sleep after a Bixby Police officer shot it three times. John and Cathy Benzinger say Fluppy was tethered to the fence in their backyard when police came out to answer an alarm call Saturday morning.

Police say Fluppy was barking and approached Officer Cory Forister, so he shot the dog. He says he had to protect himself. Bixby Police say the procedure for handling animals depends on the circumstance and are investigating.

News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger says officers often have run-ins with dogs. It can happen while serving search warrants or like in this case, answering burglary alarm calls. Tulsa Police officers have on occasion had to shoot a dog, so just what is this department's procedure for such cases?

Tulsa Police Corporal Jim Curran: "There have been several times I've been on calls where dogs have been involved. Some of them have been chained some haven’t.” Corporal Jim Curran has been with Tulsa Police for 17 years. For the last three years, he's been the department's assistant firearms instructor.

Curran says when police officers walk into an unknown area or backyard and are approached by a dog, whether it's a barking golden retriever or a barking pit bull, officers are trained to use deadly force if they feel their life is in danger. "However common sense rules if you're serving a search warrant and you know there's dogs there we have numerous different ways of taking care of the animals."

Curran says Tulsa Police officers carry pepper spray which can be used to fend off animals that are attacking, but if that doesn't work he says officers have to do whatever it takes to defend themselves, a decision that has to be made in an instant. "You don't have time it's a split second decision. If you can retreat you retreat if you can't then you can use any means necessary to protect yourself.”

Curran says even if an officer is approached by a dog that is tethered to a fence, the length of the cable or leash might not give that officer enough time to get away. "Dogs are gonna be able to run faster than I am and if that leads not long enough I might not be able to back up."

News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger has received lots of calls from people who have asked, 'Why didn't the officer just shoot the dog in the paw?" Curran says police officers are not trained to shoot to injure, but to shoot to kill and that means, aiming for "the center mass" which is the middle part of the chest. He says when dealing with a threatening animal, it's easier to shoot at a big target than a little target like a paw.

A review board will look over the evidence in the Bixby case Wednesday to determine what, if anything, should happen to the officer involved in Saturday’s shooting.
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