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Jun 19 2014

There’s a simple solution to every problem

And it’s usually wrong and makes everything worse. I see that the Baltimore police have a response to a panicky pet. No excuses for the dog; it was lost and apparently a bit frantic, and tried to bite someone.

Nala’s owner, Sarah Gossard, said that her dog “had a collar around its neck with tags, with my phone number. She was just the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone. She was just scared that day, and through all of those events — being scared and lost, thirsty, hungry — yes I’m very sure that she bit someone, but the actions after that were not OK.”

So what should the police have done? Caught the dog to prevent further harm, sure; maybe even fine the owner for negligence. I can imagine lots of ways to appropriately deal with this real problem. Officer Jeffrey Bolger came up with an innovative solution.

After the dog, named “Nala,” was secured with a dog pole, Officer Jeffrey Bolger approached the dog and slit its throat. According to the charging documents, before cutting Nala’s throat, Bolger yelled, “I am going to fucking gut this thing!”

Oh. So we’re out of the realm of ‘appropriate’, and into the realm of ‘extreme lashing out’. In that case, the proper Bolger response to Bolger ought to be simply putting Officer Jeffrey Bolger down…quickly and humanely, of course, because we aren’t barbarians.

But I guess if we’re going to abide by the law, maybe instead Bolger should be arrested (he was) and fired (not clear if he will be).

I’m just curious why a policer officer was out serving and protecting while carrying a knife suitable for throat-slitting. Is that standard issue in Baltimore?

152 comments

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  1. 1
    chigau (違う)

    Because if he discharges his firearm he has to file a report.

  2. 2
    skeptifem

    I expected a pit or a rott or a presa, something that could do a lot of damage, but that’s a tiny dog. It couldn’t do much damage if it tried to. That cop is a horrible person.

  3. 3
    Trebuchet

    @1: My first thought exactly. And maybe be pulled off the street and have to pull desk duty.

  4. 4
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    So, there were two animals out of control that day, but one still gets to handle a firearm.

  5. 5
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    I hope he doesn’t have any family. His indifference to something he is angry at and deems as simply ‘a thing’ is worrisome.

  6. 6
    gussnarp

    I’m just curious why a policer officer was out serving and protecting while carrying a knife suitable for throat-slitting. Is that standard issue in Baltimore?

    Slitting the throat of a constrained dog? You mean like the pocket knife I’ve carried since I was 9? Or a rescue knife designed for cutting seat belts? I don’t think the officer carrying a knife was the issue. The issue is officers who lash out in violent rage when they’re confronted with any kind of challenge. It’s the same issue that leads to shooting young men dead when they’re already pinned to the floor because they didn’t respect the officer’s authority. Our police are inadequately screened at hiring, inadequately trained, inadequately monitored, and inadequately disciplined, leading to tragic outcomes.

  7. 7
    David Marjanović

    ^ Seconded.

  8. 8
    David Marjanović

    …That holds for comments 5 and 6 both. Except: routinely carrying a knife that can cut a seatbelt?!?

  9. 9
    sundoga

    David, sure. I know several police (and ambulancemen) who carry a single-hand lock folding blade with a seatbelt cutting notch. Seatbelts are designed to be tough, and the locking mechanisms can be warped or twisted in a bad crash, requiring the belt to be cut away. I believe many first-responder elements consider them standard issue tools.

  10. 10
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Except: routinely carrying a knife that can cut a seatbelt?!?

    Police respond to automobile accidents, especially where it is more than a simple fender-bender. They may need to release a belt that is hurting a victim before the paramedics arrive.

  11. 11
    PZ Myers

    OK, that makes sense.

  12. 12
    moarscienceplz

    If he wants to live like an uncivilized animal, maybe there’s an uninhabited island we can exile him to?

  13. 13
    Sastra

    According to the charging documents, before cutting Nala’s throat, Bolger yelled, “I am going to fucking gut this thing!”

    Okay, somebody has been watching Game of Thrones and taking it waaaay too seriously. It should not be used as one’s role model.

  14. 14
    eveningchaos

    An appropriate punishment for this officer would be to be placed in a locked room naked and covered in wet dog food with a pack of hungry wild dogs.

  15. 15
    Brandon

    She was just the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone.

    OK, there’s absolutely no excuse for the LEO to behave in this fashion, but I can’t stand people that say things like this. If your dog is biting people, it’s just plainly wrong that it would “never hurt anyone”. I can’t stand the mentality that some people have with regard to their pets, that they’re angels that wouldn’t hurt anyone – even when those pets are actively trying to bite people.

  16. 16
    qwints

    There’s a documentary that goes into how disturbingly common these kinds of killings are.

  17. 17
    Halcyon Dayz, FCD

    Our police are inadequately screened at hiring, inadequately trained, inadequately monitored, and inadequately disciplined, leading to tragic outcomes.

    You get what you pay for.

  18. 18
    David Marjanović

    I can’t stand the mentality that some people have with regard to their pets, that they’re angels that wouldn’t hurt anyone –

    Seconded. She doesn’t do anything! She only wants to play! Yeah, she wants a chewtoy.

    You get what you pay for.

    You really do. Representation without taxation does have its disadvantages.

  19. 19
    busterggi

    Pity Officer Bolger, he’s been waiting years to kill a person and had to settle for killing a dog. If only he had been more patient.

  20. 20
    Pen

    Representation without taxation does have its disadvantages.

    LOL

  21. 21
    Pen

    I wonder how Officer Bolger responds if you ask him for the time of day? Throws you to the floor, cuffs you, kicks you up the crotch and yells ‘Read ya shadow, ya muthafuckin ass!’ ???

  22. 22
    Alverant

    Knives are extremely useful tools. Moreso than guns. I won’t blame and officer who has one. A decent knife is inexpensive and easily carried. Even if it’s not used often those times where it is useful outweigh the cost of having one. I was in the BSA growing up and pretty much always had a pocket knife with me. But then I was more likely to need to cut rope and twine on a camping trip.

    But that’s beside the point, what the cop did was way out of line. There were animal control officers nearby, let them do their job. This guy just wanted an excuse to exercise his authority to kill. I hope he gets kicked off the force.

  23. 23
    M31

    It hasn’t been a good week for escaped 4-legged mammals in Baltimore–the other day a steer escaped from a slaughterhouse, took a several mile jog downtown, through a parking garage next to the Symphony, and then was shot by police.

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/videogallery/80494899//Steer-running-through-downtown-Baltimore-Video

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/blog/bs-md-ci-bull-on-the-loose-20140613,0,2475346,full.story

    In this case, the police shot from the window of a moving car, while there were lots of people around.

  24. 24
    grumpyoldfart

    All charges will be dropped. You wait and see.

  25. 25
    sparks

    There’s more than enough blame to go around on this one and plenty should fall on the dog owner, but the cop really ought to be an ex cop and very very soon. And comments like “You get what you pay for” are a bunch of apologetic bullshit. There are plenty of other cops who make just what this fuckwad makes and they manage to act like real human beings.

  26. 26
    David Marjanović
    Representation without taxation does have its disadvantages.

    LOL

    To be fair, You The People of the United States are also getting unusually little for the taxes you do pay.

    In this case, the police shot from the window of a moving car, while there were lots of people around.

    Christ, what assholes.

    All charges will be dropped. You wait and see.

    *holds breath*

  27. 27
    congenital cynic

    Sounds like a roid rage. Not an uncommon substance for police to be taking.

  28. 28
    David Marjanović

    There are plenty of other cops who make just what this fuckwad makes and they manage to act like real human beings.

    It’s not just the wages, but also the training.

  29. 29
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    eveningchaos:

    An appropriate punishment for this officer would be to be placed in a locked room naked and covered in wet dog food with a pack of hungry wild dogs.

    Ah, you’re a fan of the barbaric has-no-place-in-a-civilized-society “eye for an eye” response to a wrongdoing. The officer should be punished, I fully agree with that. But not in a way that denies him his rights as a human.

  30. 30
    David Marjanović

    …Also… how overworked are cops in the US?

  31. 31
    Crimson Clupeidae

    ..if it were a black kid thug, there would hardly be a peep, sadly.

  32. 32
    Erlend Meyer

    Agreed, I consider a knife the best multi-purpose tool ever invented. I rarely go without a folding knife, there’s so many things a knife can do even if it’s not the optimum tool. I’d be more skeptical to a LEO that doesn’t carry a small knife.

    As for putting down aggressive dogs I have no problem with that when done properly by qualified persons. And if done to protect oneself or others you can use whatever means at your disposal. But using a knife on a small dog under complete control with poles? That’s just vile.

  33. 33
    twas brillig (stevem)

    Police respond to automobile accidents, especially where it is more than a simple fender-bender. They may need to release a belt that is hurting a victim before the paramedics arrive.

    Good point (I think). I just throw in a bit of “word of mouth”, that I heard from someone who heard an EMT say “I never had to cut a corpse from a stuck seatbelt.” In response to those “delusional” fears that “if my car goes into the water (from a bridge), I could be trapped by that lapbinder and drown.” Or the other fantasy that “being thrown from a collision will save you from getting crushed.” and so on and so on. tl;dr: “Seatbelts WILL save your life, no matter WHAT happens to the car you’re in!”
    sorry. Just wanted to throw that out there. one of my favorite responses to an irrational fear.

  34. 34
    Marcus Ranum

    Theres no way to use a seatbelt safety knife to cut someone’s throat. The reason a seatbelt-cutting notch is set back from the front of the knife is to keep the sharp edge away from the person you’re rescuing. It’s a safety knife, not a killing knife. Sorry to the cop-apologists, but you’re talking bullshit – officer porker was carrying a combat knife.

  35. 35
    dianne

    Also… how overworked are cops in the US?

    I have no special knowledge of how overworked cops are, but since virtually everyone in the US who has a job is forced to work >60 hours per week, often without compensation, I’d say it’s fair to guess that they”re significantly overworked. We need a second labor movement. Badly.

  36. 36
    frog

    What a complete fucking piece of shit. I don’t expect he’ll lose his job over this, but I really hope he does. Perhaps his temper has annoyed or alienated his fellow cops and they’ll (metaphorically) frag his career by not claiming he’s always been a levelheaded, exemplary fellow. We can hope.

    Totally agree with the phenomenon of people who think their wittle baby darwing would never bite someone. Though I hesitate to pass judgment here–it’s entirely possible that the dog was in an entirely new experience, was genuinely frightened, and reacted as most mammals (including humans) would.

  37. 37
    Erlend Meyer

    Does it matter what kind of knife he used? Any non-safety knife would do the job, and if we can entrust the police with guns I don’t see the problem with a “combat knife” (or rather “tactical” as this seems to be the favored name for anything that’s overpriced, ugly and impractical), but I do object to the usage in this case.

  38. 38
    eveningchaos

    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!:

    Your probably right. That type of punishment mould undermine the rule of law and civil society. I was just reacting emotionally and came up with that scenario to appease my inner revenge demon. He’ll most likely get leave with pay followed by a clerical reinstatement.

  39. 39
    eveningchaos

    *would not mould

  40. 40
    opposablethumbs

    There is no such thing as an animal with teeth that will never bite. If a dog is in pain, frightened and trapped, it has no other way of defending itself; that said, I have no idea what this particular dog was like. Which doesn’t matter in the slightest, given that it had already been successfully restrained.

    I hope this officer doesn’t have a family. I especially hope this officer doesn’t have young children. Or a partner who doesn’t outweigh, outreach and out-punch him by a factor of at least two. Or elderly parents. Or ever comes into contact with members of the public. Or …

    Actually I think this officer ought to be prevented from coming into contact with people or other animals unsupervised; he’s clearly a danger to others. And a scumbucket piece of shit animal abuser at the very least.

  41. 41
    Inaji

    David:

    It’s not just the wages, but also the training.

    There are other factors as well. Anyone with this much of an anger problem would have shown other signs, probably for a significant amount of time. Cops cover for other cops, psychological evaluations aren’t the norm, and people with personality problems do slip through the rather wide net of policing. Even when a candidate hasn’t passed exams and leaves red flags littered all over, bad shit can happen.

    What this man did to the dog is shocking, and there’s no excusing it. It does make me wonder what else he’s done on the path leading up to this particular incident.

  42. 42
    unclefrogy

    I the last month I have been bitten by a dog a rather muscular dog some kind of mixed bull terrier on a leash while at the laundromat and just last night I was growled and snapped at by another dog a little more mixed but similar but this one was better restrained by a leash. I was surprised by my reaction at the laundromat I got very angry very fast. The owners of dogs who do not recognize how dangerous they can be and do not have control of them should not take them out in public! Both women who were “in control” of the dogs said the same thing that as the woman here they were shocked. My experience I am a dog person and have owned similar dogs, they were giving signals to the dog that they may not have realized that it was good to get aggressive.
    That said once the animal is captured and restrained by one of those poles there is nothing else that needs to be done except putting it in a cage. The officer was wrong and should be disciplined and maybe needs some counseling he may have some underlying issues .
    uncle frogy

  43. 43
    Kevin Alexander

    IANAL but I think he’ll walk. It’s against the law to mistreat an animal but it’s OK to merely kill him.

  44. 44
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    …Also… how overworked are cops in the US?

    In Baltimore City? Very, very, very.

    However, that’s 0 justification for what this fucknugget did to that dog.

  45. 45
    skeptifem

    I agree uncle froggy. There are some serious problems for owners of dogs that are potentially dangerous. There are organizations that are hell bent on proving that fighting dogs are just as safe as any other kind of dog, so when their dog goes ape shit a lot of them just flee the scene (they call it a dine-n-dash attack) because its a huge dose of cognitive dissonance to take all at once. It isn’t actually a crime to run away after your dog attacks someone. There are other owners who just dress up their dogs as “therapy” dogs so they can bring them into stores and restaurants and such.

    That is why I was a bit shocked to see the dog in the photo- I have empathy for cops that have to make split second decisions about a dog that can do serious damage to other people because they are at large or break free of restraints, but this case…? It was restrained and pretty small.

  46. 46
    Erlend Meyer

    Opposablethumbs: You’re absolutely right, all animals will bite under the right (or perhaps wrong) circumstances. But a healthy and properly socialized dog shouldn’t bite unless seriously mistreated. Most of the dogs I’ve known wouldn’t turn aggressive under the same circumstances, in fact they would gladly accompany any kind person rather than be left lone.

    So this dog wasn’t a big loss in my view, but that doesn’t justify killing it in such a barbaric manner.

  47. 47
    unclefrogy

    Some people are shocked that he used a knife to cut the throat of the little dog. he just as easily used a club which would have been less messy and possibly a quicker death. It is not that he used a knife it was that he just killed a restrained animal that no longer posed any threat. He went completely over the line of rational behavior. He is an officer of the law as such is supposed to be a force for reason and order were we settle issues with discussion and agreements not force and violence .

    uncle frogy

  48. 48
    gmacs
    There are plenty of other cops who make just what this fuckwad makes and they manage to act like real human beings.

    It’s not just the wages, but also the training.

    And, I would imagine, screening processes cost something, as would psych treatment when necessary. I think the issue is that, while everyone can recognize that police are necessary, many seem to ignore is that the job is a very attractive one to fuckheads of various types.

  49. 49
    Anton Mates

    Brandon @15,

    She was just the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone.
    OK, there’s absolutely no excuse for the LEO to behave in this fashion, but I can’t stand people that say things like this. If your dog is biting people, it’s just plainly wrong that it would “never hurt anyone”.

    Eh, it’s a figure of speech. It’s not literally applicable to anybody; we all have a tipping point. My dog’s never bitten a person, but I’m sure she would if sufficiently provoked. So would I.

    In this case, the person who was bitten by the dog told reporters that it bit her in self-defense, because it was frightened and she was a stranger trying to touch it. That’s certainly not optimal behavior, even for a dog that’s lost and stressed out. But it’s also very different from a dog that actively approaches humans to bite them, or a dog that gives no signals of aggressive intent. It’s entirely plausible that this dog was sweet and a reliable non-biter throughout her past history, and I’m disinclined to blame her owner for emphasizing that when she’s trying to deal with the fact that the police just slaughtered her dog for no reason.

  50. 50
    doublereed

    Police officers have such a ridiculously bloody history of killing pets in Maryland (and in many other states too). Little dogs, docile dogs, etc. etc. even during minor offenses too. It’s practically routine to slaughter people’s pets. They’ve killed so many dogs. It’s one of the most horrible things I’ve learned about police.

    Seriously, keep your pets away from police at all times.

  51. 51
    doublereed

    Here’s a horribly depressing article on police shooting dogs:

    Because there are no national records or a centralized database of dog shootings, it’s hard to tell if incidents are on the rise in the United States. However, a review by Pets Adviser of “use of force” statistics from several large cities shows no notable uptick in these cases. In fact, in New York City the yearly number of dog shootings by police is far below the inflated numbers of the late 1990s (43 dogs shot in 2011 versus an average 82 per year in 1996-98; numbers include vicious dog attacks).

    The increased attention to these cases in recent months appears to be due to heightened awareness, more extensive media coverage and social networking buzz when a shooting occurs. The shootings occur so often, in fact, that a certain numbness has started to set in. One commenter online wryly remarks, “Same story. Family. Dog. Cops. Dog shot. Dog dead. Family bereaved. Shooting justified. No matter what. Repeat.”

    A Newfoundland named Rosie who had escaped from her home was Tased multiple times, then executed by officers in Des Moines, Wash. A dashboard video of the long ordeal shows officers wondering aloud what to do with the dog if they catch her — then they conclude, “We should just shoot [her].” They chase her down to finish the job. Another officer hollers “Nice!” when Rosie is shot. A witness says the officers high-fived one another afterward.

    So yea. Cops kill dogs.

  52. 52
    sundoga

    Marcus Ranum, A) NO, such knives do NOT always have the cutting notch on the tip.I have seen such (and agree they are probably safer designs) but I have also seen blades that had the notch at the BASE, IN LINE with the blade, so that you could use the knife as a tool blade as well. And if you think explaining why normal police might very well carry a blade is apologizing for this crock of shit, then fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

  53. 53
    otrame

    My eldest was a dog warden in the UK for a few years. He worked with the police a lot because most police in the UK do not carry firearms and breaking into a suspect’s house will cause even the most reasonable dog to get bitty. So they would send the dog wardens in first to get control of any dogs in the house. Can’t tell you how pleased I was to hear that. But the truth is that most criminals in the UK don’t have guns either (though of course, some do).

    Getting bit, especially by small dogs, is very common when said dogs are afraid. The same son was at a Walmart once, where a poodle was running frantically around the store being chased by … pretty much everybody. He got control of the situation and the dog, but he did get bit, which he expected because he didn’t have the proper equipment and didn’t want to wait for animal control because he was afraid some kid would get bit. He didn’t consider the bite an indication of viciousness in the dog. It was terrified. He did the job because he could be pretty sure that he was the only person in the store that had been vaccinated against rabies.

    That the cop would even consider doing such a thing, especially if he himself

  54. 54
    Amphiox

    An appropriate punishment for this officer would be to be placed in a locked room naked and covered in wet dog food with a pack of hungry wild dogs.

    No.

    The appropriate response to inhuman savagery is not more of the same.

  55. 55
    David Marjanović

    sorry. Just wanted to throw that out there. one of my favorite responses to an irrational fear.

    You know, I’ve long wondered why I only Americans have ever expressed the fear of being stuck in a car due to a deformed seatbelt in my (virtual) presence. Elsewhere, the whole concept seems to be unknown; before I was on Pharyngula for long enough, I hadn’t heard of any justification for not wearing a seatbelt other than simple laziness.

    However, that’s 0 justification for what this fucknugget did to that dog.

    Who talks about justifications? I’m trying to explain (to myself) how anybody could snap like that. If they’re overworked, an obvious solution is to hire more personnel – leading us back to the taxes I alluded to.

    And, I would imagine, screening processes cost something, as would psych treatment when necessary.

    Yep. If you need to hire more police, but aren’t given more funding, the only way to hire more people is to lower the requirements – Police Academy is the farce, reality is the tragedy.

  56. 56
    eveningchaos

    Yes, I fully retract my attempt at hyperbole. This officer should be punished within the confines of the law not using the barbaric methods I outline in my first post. The reality is he will probably be let off the hook because the police generally don’t want to punish their own under the same laws they are pledged to uphold. So, for the records, I do not condone the use of wild dogs and cans of wet dog food to mete out justice for animal killers.

  57. 57
    Inaji

    doublereed:

    Seriously, keep your pets away from police at all times.

    It’s a sad irony that a majority of police advise a civilian to have a dog to deter break ins, eh? At any rate, I’m glad I live in a police-less town.

  58. 58
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Who talks about justifications? I’m trying to explain (to myself) how anybody could snap like that.

    Oh, I wasn’t aiming that at you, I apologize that that’s how it came off. I was talking more to myself (“I admit to myself the police are overworked, but that was still a shitty thing to do”).

  59. 59
    feministdalek

    @40, opposablethumbs

    There is no such thing as an animal with teeth that will never bite. If a dog is in pain, frightened and trapped, it has no other way of defending itself; that said, I have no idea what this particular dog was like. Which doesn’t matter in the slightest, given that it had already been successfully restrained.

    Thank you. I think a lot of this has parallels with how we treat small children; we expect perfect behavior and emotional control from small people and animals, no matter the circumstances, and tend to punish “bad” behavior. Instead of reading and responding to legitimate fear/anger responses, we just punish away the bad behavior with hopes that new goodness will overtake it!

    As a relatively new dog owner, I see both sides. I have an incredibly submissive dog with an abusive past who literally greets other dogs by rolling over on her back…but at the same time she doesn’t get to walk off leash and she’s never unattended when playing with other dogs or people. She’s never snapped or tried to bite (in fact, my partner had to literally dig out a splinter stuck between her teeth with nary a complaint from the dog), but I don’t know how she would respond in difficult or stressful circumstances that I cannot control.

    tl;dr: Dog owners, take responsibility for your animal. Realize that behavior can be drastically different from situation to situation.

    Other people, listen to the signs that animals/people are telling you. Growling? Back the fuck off and give the creature space; they are trying to tell you that they are uncomfortable and you’re not listening.

  60. 60
    feministdalek

    Oh snap, messed up some of my formatting. Apologies!

  61. 61
    marcus

    Like I need another reason to hate fucking dickhead cops. Assholes.

  62. 62
    Weedless Monkey

    David MarjanovićA seat belt cutter is a basic thing in first aid kits designed to be carried in cars. Some also carry them within hand reach of the drivers seat. An inexpensive fix to a rare problem, I believe.

  63. 63
    Inaji

    feministdalek:

    I have an incredibly submissive dog with an abusive past

    One of my current dogs is half white shepherd, half coyote, and was in a state of complete cringe when we rescued her. She had been abused beyond belief, and even when she hadn’t been, she’d been utterly mishandled. We are her 14th home. She’s been with us for over 10 years now, and is a happy, confident being. While I’m fairly sure if she was lost and feeling threatened, she’d do the standard coyote thing and run (which she’s very good at), in my experience, animals with an abusive past will often be the very first to snap, lunge, and bite, especially if they are feeling cornered.

    People in general aren’t terribly educated about dogs, and that includes a fucktonne of owners. All that said, yes, people should be aware of the potential for being bitten by anything with teeth, strange dogs (to you), shouldn’t be approached unless you happen to be one of those people who know what they are doing, and cops should not be running loose while in a state of anger deep enough to kill.

  64. 64
    geekgirlsrule

    Anton Mates, thank you for that.

    I think a lot of people who either have never had dogs, or who have only ever had big ones, don’t realize how terrifyingly large people are to small dogs. I firmly believe the dog never bit before, and then was terrified out of her tiny mind and bit someone in a panic.

    Hell, we had a lab that had never bit another human being in the 7 years we’d owned her. Then we took her to a new vet that had smaller exam rooms, and she flipped out. She was a corner biter, and when she felt trapped, she’d bite. The new vet’s rooms were just small enough that she felt cornered and afraid. And the vet was totally understanding about that, and just made a note in her file that either her people were to be the ones restraining her, or they needed to muzzle her if one of us couldn’t do it.

    Erlend Mayer: Empathy fail. And nice ignorance of dog psychology you got going there.

  65. 65
    rq

    David @55
    I’ve heard that argument from people in Latvia a lot, too. For whatever reason, they believe that they’d be fast enough to (say) jump into the next seat to avoid being crushed in a side-collision. *shrug* People are weird.

    +++

    As for the police officer’s actions, wow. I really hope he doesn’t just walk away from this, especially with just a slap on the wrist. Poor dog, poor owner.

  66. 66
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Erlend Meyer:

    So this dog wasn’t a big loss in my view, but that doesn’t justify killing it in such a barbaric manner.

    A dog was needlessly killed in a brutal way and a grieving owner is trying to understand how and why this happened. And here you are with a startling lack of empathy.

  67. 67
    marcus

    Erlend Meyer
    PS You’re a dumbass.

  68. 68
    HolyPinkUnicorn

    @Doublereed #50:

    Police officers have such a ridiculously bloody history of killing pets in Maryland (and in many other states too).

    One of the stranger cases I can think of was in 2008 when a mayor’s two dogs were shot to death by a SWAT team in a drug raid.

    He eventually settled out of court a couple years later, though I suspect it helped that he’s a mayor living an otherwise comfortable life. What happens to all the people who don’t have the money, much less the political office, to make a case out of such wrongdoing? Worse, the police can and do use their own dogs in an aggressive manner (the majority of which, of course, aren’t beagles looking for contraband fruits and vegetables).

  69. 69
    Erlend Meyer

    My apologies. I wasn’t trying to minimize the owners grief, loosing your pet is bad enough without it being killed in this manner. I just have a very low tolerance for aggressive dogs, but truth be told I cannot conclude was from 2. and 3. hand accounts. Either way there are no excuses for this officers actions, even if it was aggressive and did bite there were no reasons for killing it on the spot. And certainly not like this.
    But I won’t apologize for believing that aggressive dogs should be put down. Even if the bite wasn’t that bad, next time it could be a kid that gets it. And no dog is worth that.

  70. 70
    Weedless Monkey

    Dogs that are already caught are no longer a problem to the police. Except for the murderous ones.

  71. 71
    Weedless Monkey

    And just to be sure, by the murderous ones I mean the police, not dogs.

  72. 72
    doublereed

    @68 HolyPinkUnicorn

    Thanks, I was looking for that case but I forgot the details.

    Well according to my link the courts are pretty good at giving people compensation for police absurdity, just not at actually disciplining the police officers. I was also under the impression that police dogs are not really used for attacking people as much as just chasing people down.

  73. 73
    Erlend Meyer

    Agreed.

  74. 74
    Aaron

    It’s a safety knife, not a killing knife. Sorry to the cop-apologists, but you’re talking bullshit – officer porker was carrying a combat knife.

    There is a huge gulf between a seatbelt cutter (http://www.galls.com/dyna-med-compact-seatbelt-cutter) and a “combat knife” (http://image.rockynational.com/Gerber/Knives/30-000183/LHR-Combat-Knife-1.jpg?width=1000). The latter is fairly unreasonable to carry around (maybe more reasonable than a gun, but that’s a different argument), but it’s a fair bit more likely he was carrying what is called a “normal fucking pocket knife” (http://www.lapolicegear.com/lm-c33-crater-knife.html), a.k.a., the knife I have in my pocket every day for things like opening boxes and beer bottles, cutting string and tape, prying open cases, and generally just being useful. It’s even terrible for self-defense–the blade isn’t really big enough to have enough edge surface to be a deterrent against violence. Recognizing that people like to carry useful tools isn’t being a “cop apologist”, it just turns out that some reasonable and useful tools can also effectively cut the throats of immobilized small dogs.

  75. 75
    Inaji

    Erlend Meyer:

    But I won’t apologize for believing that aggressive dogs should be put down. Even if the bite wasn’t that bad, next time it could be a kid that gets it. And no dog is worth that.

    Interesting. I’m going to change it a bit:

    But I won’t apologize for believing that aggressive kids should be put down. Even if the bite wasn’t that bad, next time it could be another kid that gets it. And no kid is worth that.

    (You are aware of the aggressiveness of the human animal, right? And that humans often bite?) Also, you’re using aggressive without context.

    Short form: You’re a bit of an idiot, Erlend.

  76. 76
    marcus

    Erlend Meyer Perhaps we should clarify our terms. Those of us who choose to adopt and care for ‘rescue’ dogs realize that any dog, particularly those that have been abused or neglected can be varying degrees of fearful and/or ‘aggressive’. They require special attention and a lot of love to be able to learn to live in human society. There is a difference between this type of behavior and that of a dog that is irredeemably ‘vicious’, either through temperament and/or poor treatment. Vicious dogs should be put down, they are dangerous and can be killers. This dog appears to have merely been fearful and temporarily out of control. These police officers were the vicious ones in this case, they should lose their jobs at the very least, not just for this incident, but because they are dangerous and could be killers.

  77. 77
    Erlend Meyer

    I’m the idiot? I’m not the one comparing dogs to humans.

  78. 78
    opposablethumbs

    What feministdalek and Inaji said. As with many human-other-animal interactions, it behooves us to a) play it a bit smarter (aren’t we supposed to be smart??? -ish, at least?) and b) respect them for the perfectly fine and normal (and toothy) animals they are.

  79. 79
    Ichthyic

    Interesting. I’m going to change it a bit:

    that’s not a bit.. that’s a lot.

  80. 80
    Erlend Meyer

    Marcus: No real disagreement there. I believe that abused dogs deserve a second chance, and in the hands of a experienced owner even fearful and mildly aggressive dogs can be considered reasonably safe. But I consider those special cases with mitigating circumstances. Dogs aren’t inanimate objects, they have a will of their own and it takes so little for them to get free. Even if the owner is every bit as diligent as can be expected someone else can always let the dog out, what then?

  81. 81
    jetboy

    Search his house. A man who considers that behavior acceptable has other problems. Betcha.

  82. 82
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    In all the bite discussion, no mention of what kind of bite. Aggressively attacked, latched on, and shook it’s head to tear in? Or one of those normal little nips which are a polite way of a dog saying fuck off? There’s a lot in between.

    Of course people say “my x would never…”. People are mostly unclear thinkers and fall into common speech patterns. That pattern can be used in many ways, like denial, or like “you weren’t very sensitive in handling a scared and normally very nonviolent animal”. Either gear the fuck up and trap it, or don’t corner it and try to be friendly. But we’re all so very much in a hurry because OMG a fucking dog is walking around.

    Notice also in this instance that the owner is not in denial, one sentence further in her quoted statement. And she’s right, because if that dog intended to fuck you up, it would have.

    At least the person who was given the bite clearly had a clue. Unlike the cop.

  83. 83
    lorn

    I don’t think the knife is the issue. I carry a knife in the form of a multi-tool, Leatherman, and grew up where everyone, certainly every male, was pretty much expected to have a pocket knife of some description. A pen knife was pretty common with older men.

    The lack of control is IMHO, the issue. If the dog is under your control, like maybe you have enough of a grip on it when you could slit its throat, there is no need to kill it because it isn’t a threat.

  84. 84
    jrfdeux, mode d'emploi

    doublereed @51

    A Newfoundland named Rosie who had escaped from her home was Tased multiple times, then executed by officers in Des Moines, Wash.

    A Newf??! They fucking executed a NEWF?!?!

    ASSHOLES. Newfoundlands are massive creampuffs that are gentle and love children. They’re like big soft teddybears. This is heartbreaking. :-(

  85. 85
    Erlend Meyer

    One could blame it on fear and ignorance, but I don’t think so. There is a troublesome callousness mixed with testosterone-laden bullshit here. Sadly I fear it’s too prevalent in the type of persons that gravitate towards law enforcement and other high-risk professions. Not trying to stigmatize a whole group, most are good people (inverse Sturgeon’s law). But this sort of behavior stinks to high heaven.

  86. 86
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    testosterone-laden

    The reaction to having testosterone isn’t violence. The reaction to a culture which expects aggression to be tied to testosterone levels excuses violence.

  87. 87
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    Err.. sorry about that last sentence.

    “The reaction, in a culture which expects aggression to be tied to testosterone, is often violence.”

    Amazing what a difference two letters make.

  88. 88
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    F @82:

    In all the bite discussion, no mention of what kind of bite. Aggressively attacked, latched on, and shook it’s head to tear in? Or one of those normal little nips which are a polite way of a dog saying fuck off? There’s a lot in between.

    Not only is there no mention of what kind of bite, I’m not sure if there *was* a bite. From the link in the OP:

    A Baltimore, Maryland police officer was arrested and charged with aggravated animal cruelty after he slit the throat of a dog that had been called in as a possible stray.

    Police said that Sandy Fleischer called in a report of a stray dog in southeast Baltimore that had attempted to bite her.

    Fleischer told 11 News that “the dog was more scared of not knowing where it was and being thirsty and disoriented. The dog bit me out of fear because I tried to touch it, which was my fault.”

    The article isn’t clear on whether or not the woman was bitten.

    CNN clears it up a bit:

    The woman who was bitten suffered a puncture wound on her hand and is fine, Kowalczy said.

    So Fleischer was bitten, but it wasn’t a severe wound and even she appears very sympathetic to the distress the dog was in. CNN also reported that the officer was arrested, charged, *and* suspended without pay.

  89. 89
    nancymartin

    jumping ahead so if someone already mentioned this then forgive me. The dog had been controlled by one of those long pole things by the police. This ahole killed the dog before animal control arrived. I live about a mile outside of the Baltimore City limits and yes there are typical police abuses but is a relatively recent thing for Maryland. Similar things have happened in maryland recently. When looking for this particular story, I did come across a piece from a Pittsburgh paper on this issue.

  90. 90
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Erlend Meyer:

    I’m the idiot? I’m not the one comparing dogs to humans.

    Do we determine who lives and dies based on levels of aggression? Substituting a child for a dog in the scenario points out the absurdity of that position. I believe that was her point. That, and you’re not looking at the context of the situation.
    As a society, we don’t kill aggressive children just bc they’re aggressive.
    Why should a dog be killed simply bc it is aggressive? What’s the source of the aggression? A dog that’s been bred to kill other animals or a dog that’s frightened, hungry, and far from home?
    I can’t think of a scenario where killing an aggressive child should ever be permissible.
    I can think of scenarios where killing an aggressive dog should be permissible, but those depend on the situation. I.E. context. As it turns out, when you look at the context, the dog was likely scared, the woman realized she shouldn’t have tried to touch the dog, the bite was minor, the woman who was bitten does not appear to be angry (in fact, she’s sympathetic to the dog), and the dog was restrained. There was no reason to kill the dog, and even less reason to do so in such a barbaric manner.

  91. 91
    marcus

    Erlend Meyer “Even if the owner is every bit as diligent as can be expected someone else can always let the dog out, what then?”
    Well it’s to hope some dumbass cop doesn’t kill them out of hand. Otherwise, shit is going to happen, if someone is “as diligent as can be expected” then it’s not going to happen very often. You can’t make the whole world safe for everybody.

  92. 92
    nancymartin

    of course the story in the paper was a bit too pro-shooting for me.

  93. 93
    Inaji

    Tony:

    Do we determine who lives and dies based on levels of aggression? Substituting a child for a dog in the scenario points out the absurdity of that position. I believe that was her point. That, and you’re not looking at the context of the situation.

    Yes on both points.

    Erland Meyer:

    Even if the owner is every bit as diligent as can be expected someone else can always let the dog out, what then?

    Oh FFS, stop digging. Your earlier stance was wrong, and you aren’t helping your lack of a case.

    Who is this mysterious someone else in your scenario? Do you think strangers can just waltz up to any house and decide to let a dog out?

    I have dogs. My Shepherd/Coyote is wicked intelligent, well trained, and fairly socialized. My other dog is a half Chow/half white Shepherd who is retarded. He’s happy, enthusiastic, and very, very scary to people who don’t know him (which is pretty much everyone), as Jayne has an extremely chilling bark and he weighs 120 lbs. Jayne is a compleat chickenshit, but no one can be expected to know that, and no one wants to test out that theory when they see him. Jayne also has a penchant for chasing *anything*, including people. So, I’m diligent.*

    My dogs have an enclosure for when they are not being tightly supervised. Only an utter fuckwit would think “hey, I’ll walk over there and open the gate!” They wouldn’t even get on my property before I was alerted, and no one wants my dogs in their face. Even so, when I’m going to be occupied and they are out, the gate has a big ol’ lock on it. Most of the time, they are inside. I live rural. If a stranger wants to walk into my house, well…I’d advise they freeze until I come out to deal with things. Part of the reason I have dogs is for protection, that’s their job. So I am very diligent. I take care to make sure my animals (all of them, including cats and rats) are under my control, and not someone else’s problem. That’s part and parcel of having pets. Yes, shit can happen, and an animal can get out. That’s no excuse for killing it. Most owners take care for such an incident to not take place again.

    Just because shit can happen is no reason to excuse an unjustified response.
     
    *Extra-special diligent in the case of Jayne, because I’m well aware I’m surrounded by people who would be happy to shoot first when it comes to him.

  94. 94
    nancymartin

    Dogs will bite for a number of reasons. I was bit (sort of) recently. I was going to dinner at a friend’s house (not a dog owner) who happened to be dog sitting for a family member. I rang the bell and she yelled out come in. Of course the dog didn’t comprehend this and thought I was an intruder. He just grazed me. I feel he was protecting his family. I didn’t hold it against the dog or my friend. Neither of us being dog owners never even thought of this. However, those in law enforcement or public safety need to be aware of this kind of thing.
    This may be funny to some of you (it is to me) When I was a tween (mid 1970′s), a friend of my sister’s showed up at the house unannounced with a friend and just walked in. Our dog took a nip at the friend. She was okay with it because the dog “sensed she was a practicing witch”. My parents just smiled and inwardly asked themselves WTF and were happy that she didn’t do anything to have the dog taken away.

  95. 95
    nancymartin

    One more story – when I was about 6, a bunch of us were playing tag or something in the street. In any case, we were running around. One minute, I am running and the next I am flat on my stomach with a german shepard standing on me. He didn’t bit but he just stood there. The owner showed up and got him. It freaked me out and it took me a long time got get comfortable with larger dogs. However, now I think the dog was just trying to herd us and i was the easy target

  96. 96
    HolyPinkUnicorn

    @Doublereed #72

    I wouldn’t necessarily characterize police dogs as being exclusively for attacking people, but I’m not entirely comfortable with the way police use them either. At the extreme end, we see military police use them to intimidate detainees (though that’s probably near the bottom of human rights abuses committed against prisoners over the last decade), while detection and tracking dogs are a little more in line with how law enforcement should be acting in a free society.

    But like so much else it easily gets out of hand, and law enforcement inevitably increase their powers and capabilities whenever they can. For example, The New York Times recently had an unsettling article on the surplus war equipment police departments have been inheriting over the last few years. I see it as part of a growing problem with law enforcement (like killing dogs on sight) where the main priority is to protect and serve themselves over everyone else.

  97. 97
    kraut

    I luckily have had little first hand experience with Canadian or German cops. The second hand experience however (relatives, friends) is bad enough to maintain my stance that cops in the majority are criminals working under protection of the law – or just arseholes.

  98. 98
    Graculus

    skeptifem: hell bent on proving that fighting dogs are just as safe as any other kind of dog

    First, they came for the pitbulls, and I said nothing, for I did not own a pitbull…

    Breeds have different personalities, but not a single dog breed has been bred to be aggressive towards humans. Ever.

    I’m not so sure about humans, though. I’m hoping for jail time for this waste of oxygen.

    holypinkunicorn Worse, the police can and do use their own dogs in an aggressive manner

    According to a guy I know that trains police dogs, that’s incompetent handling, He’s also of the opinion that a lot of police handlers are idiots. I’m not disagreeing.

  99. 99
    ck

    jetboy wrote:

    Search his house. A man who considers that behavior acceptable has other problems. Betcha.

    You may not even need to go that far. You may only need to go as far as this guy’s record while in the police force. How many “unfounded” complaints of brutality were laid against him? How many people did he bring in with unexplained or poorly explained injuries? How many people did he kill needlessly?

    I also seriously doubt that dogs were the only target of his violence.

  100. 100
    krubozumo

    Incident

    by Countee Cullen

    Once riding in old Baltimore,
    Heart-filled, head-filled with glee;
    I saw a Baltimorean
    Keep looking straight at me.

    Now I was eight and very small,
    And he was no whit bigger,
    And so I smiled, but he poked out
    His tongue, and called me, “Nigger.”

    I saw the whole of Baltimore
    From May until December;
    Of all the things that happened there
    That’s all that I remember.

  101. 101
    Anton Mates

    skeptifem @45,

    I agree uncle froggy. There are some serious problems for owners of dogs that are potentially dangerous. There are organizations that are hell bent on proving that fighting dogs are just as safe as any other kind of dog

    Fighting dog breeds are indeed just as safe as any other kind of dog, according to temperament tests. If we’re talking pit bulls specifically, they may show higher-than-average rates of dog-on-dog aggression, although there are a ton of statistical confounds to deal with before making that conclusion. But they’re also unusually inhibited about biting humans–it’s a fighting dog thing–so it pretty much balances out.

    And many pit bulls make great therapy dogs. They have to be trained and certified, but if people are pretending their animals are therapy dogs when they’re not, that’s not a breed-specific problem.

    Individual dogs with a fighting history often aren’t safe, of course. And I’ve got no problem with putting dogs down if they’re dangerously aggressive. It’s not their fault, at all, but we just can’t afford to keep them around when we’re already euthanizing much better-behaved dogs for lack of resources and adopters. Animal rescue is all about triage.

    (In the last three days I’ve tried to catch two stray dogs that were running in traffic, and I’ve walked my dog past an unattended dog in a yard that effortlessly jumped the fence to say hello. This is a middle-class neighborhood in Seattle. TAKE CARE OF YOUR DAMN DOGS PEOPLE, THEY’RE AWESOME AND DON’T DESERVE TO BE OWNED BY IDIOTS, SHEESH.)

  102. 102
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Inaji

    Who is this mysterious someone else in your scenario? Do you think strangers can just waltz up to any house and decide to let a dog out?

    I realize this is nitpicking, but just a couple months ago I found a dog running loose on the street; I was trying to get close to her without chasing her into traffic, but she was pretty freaked out. Eventually I was able to reunite her with her owner, who told me that her roommate had let the dog out while she was at work, and called to tell her but hadn’t made any effort to look for the animal. So there totally can be cases of douchebags other than the owner letting an animal loose,
    Erlend Meyer
    That said, marcus @ 91 has the right idea.
    Graculus

    Breeds have different personalities, but not a single dog breed has been bred to be aggressive towards humans. Ever.

    Technically untrue; there were several breeds in antiquity that were primarily used in warfare to attack enemy troops. These breeds haven’t been around for probably a millenium or so (changes in the technology and tactics of war made them obsolete), but they did exist at one time.

  103. 103
    Erlend Meyer

    Again no real disagreement with marcus. Also, I realize that “aggression” is a broad term, “vicious” is perhaps a better term for the dogs I would have put down.
    Still, I don’t care much for aggressive animals or the people who keep them. If you are qualified to keep such animals, be my guest. But if that dog gets out and hurts anyone I feel the owner should be held up on assault-charges.

    As for comparing dogs and children, are you kidding me? We don’t accept having children chained up in the back yard, does that mean dogs shouldn’t either?

  104. 104
    Erlend Meyer

    @ Anton Mates: Thank you for that link, found some interesting stuff there. The TT-test sounds like an excellent criteria when discussing temperament in dogs:
    http://atts.org/tt-test-description/
    My use of the word “aggressive” would correspond to a dog that would fail this test on multiple subtests, to me “vicious” sounds much more extreme. But English isn’t my first language so I get ting wrong sometimes.

  105. 105
    opposablethumbs

    We don’t accept having children chained up in the back yard, does that mean dogs shouldn’t either?

    Absofuckinglutely. No animal should be kept restrained for hours at a time, let alone live that way. That’s animal cruelty, and the humans involved should be banned from keeping animals. Sadly there are way too fucking many people who regard their pets as essentially objects. This is not about anthopomorphising them and treating them like people, btw – they’re animals, and animals need certain levels of provision.

    People don’t have to have dogs or any other pets, and if you can’t give it a minimum of shelter, clean water, food and attention then maybe you shouldn’t have one.

    Our current dog will be our last, much though we love having one, because we recognise that given how long they can live we may not be able to keep up for long enough to provide that attention and outlast the next one. So there won’t be a next one.

  106. 106
    ledasmom

    I really, really hate the idea that dogs divide into “aggressive” and “non-aggressive”. It’s not as if a dog that bites once is always and forevermore a risk to bite under any and all circumstances; some dogs are sensitive about their heads, others about their feet, some bite if terrified and cornered, etc. Any reasonably decent owner knows their dog well enough to protect the dog from being annoyed and people from being bitten (and, we can hope, is working with the dog about its issues). The dog in this case was in extreme circumstances and the police seem to have done nothing to de-escalate the situation, resulting in the dog dying in pain and terror and the owner being deprived of a pet that she loved. I hope the officer who killed the dog does receive significant consequences, but frankly it’s not as if the entire approach to the situation by the police was ideal.

  107. 107
    Graculus

    dalillama: Technically untrue; there were several breeds in antiquity that were primarily used in warfare

    Even if there were (I have some reservations about them being *primarily* war dogs, as opposed to members of the breed being used as war dogs), that doesn’t mean they were bred for aggression towards humans. You’ve got to handle the dog yourself, and breed from stock with low human aggression (that is, all dogs) – easier and safer to start with a drive that’s already high, like prey drive. And yes, some breeds, and some lines within breeds, are noted for very high drive.

    Chaining a dog, or leaving them alone for extended periods of time, is abuse.

  108. 108
    Inaji

    We don’t accept having children chained up in the back yard, does that mean dogs shouldn’t either?

    People do put children on leashes, y’know. As for chaining up a dog in the back yard, if that’s what someone got a dog for, they need to give the dog to someone who will treat it properly. What makes you think that’s okay to do for an extended time with a dog?

  109. 109
    ledasmom

    We used to have a leash for older son, but what really got people’s attention was when he fetched sticks.

  110. 110
    rahulkedia

    @Erlend Meyer

    You deeply disgust me. No big loss ? You need to be a special kind of asshole to have felt compelled to make this observation.

  111. 111
    rahulkedia

    and any dog that bites anyone , under any circumstance , you are smugly comfortable having it “put down” ? how about cats that scratch eh ? Does no else find this very disturbing?

  112. 112
    David Marjanović

    A seat belt cutter is a basic thing in first aid kits designed to be carried in cars. Some also carry them within hand reach of the drivers seat.

    Huh. Good to know they’re not limited to the US, but I had never seen such a thing before.

    I’ve heard that argument from people in Latvia a lot, too. For whatever reason, they believe that they’d be fast enough to (say) jump into the next seat to avoid being crushed in a side-collision.

    o_O

    In the last three days I’ve tried to catch two stray dogs that were running in traffic, and I’ve walked my dog past an unattended dog in a yard that effortlessly jumped the fence to say hello. This is a middle-class neighborhood in Seattle.

    *out of words*

    As for comparing dogs and children, are you kidding me? We don’t accept having children chained up in the back yard, does that mean dogs shouldn’t either?

    How easily do dogs get bored?

    I don’t know; but they’re social, and their pursuit predators rather than ambushers. Flooding your backyard and putting a snapping turtle in would probably make everyone happier, provided you unchain the dog first.

  113. 113
    David Marjanović

    …where “bored” of course includes “lonely” (but isn’t limited to it).

  114. 114
    Amphiox

    To say that “not a single” dog breed, ever, has been bred for aggressiveness to humans strains credulity, given the long history of humans breeding dogs, humans’ affinity for using dogs as tools, humans’ penchant for aggression against each other, and humans’ callousness regarding subjecting other humans of lower social status to dangerous work.

    Sure a breed of dog bred for aggressiveness to humans would be tough to handle, and sure, any number of handlers and breeders might have met a grisly fate at the hands of their dogs. None of that would matter if the people in power who wanted those aggressive dogs did not care for the occasional fatality among their dog handling underclass.

  115. 115
    Amphiox

    In fact, I’m not sure if this is just urban legend, but supposedly when Belyaev bred Silver Foxes for tameness, he also had a second comparison arm of the experiment where he bred the foxes for aggression. Presumably hose animals were ultimately destroyed, but it again strains credulity to suppose that in the long history of dog domestication, someone did not try a similar experiment at one point or another with dogs.

  116. 116
    David Marjanović

    In fact, I’m not sure if this is just urban legend, but supposedly when Belyaev bred Silver Foxes for tameness, he also had a second comparison arm of the experiment where he bred the foxes for aggression.

    I’ve seen footage. You approach the cage, and they try to go berserk.

  117. 117
    Inaji

    David:

    How easily do dogs get bored?

    Very easily. One of the reasons dogs left outside most of the time bark constantly, pure boredom.

  118. 118
    CJO

    There were certainly dogs bred for war, but that doesn’t entail that the primary aim was to inculcate aggressiveness toward people. War dogs mostly fought the other side’s war dogs. Plus big, slavering beasts with strong jaws and sharp teeth are frightening, regardless of their actual effectiveness against armed and armored men.

    Size, and aggressiveness in general were the goal. Neapolitan mastiffs acquired a trait where their skin mostly doesn’t adhere to their muscle tissue, meaning that when bitten by another large dog they get a big mouthful of loose skin, and the mastiff doesn’t suffer a deep puncture. (I knew a pair of these, once upon a time. Massive, intimidating animals, but these two were not aggressive at all toward people.)

  119. 119
    neuroturtle

    I own a knife like that *because* I live in Baltimore.

    Public services in the city are pretty awful. The government pays attention to the Inner Harbor, the fancy tourist area, but ignores most of the rest. Last year my car was broken into (for the third or fourth time) along with six others nearby, and my landlord called the cops. We chatted a bit while they took pictures and all that – they said that downtown had seen a spike in break-ins so they were thinking of increasing the number of officers dedicated to tracking and preventing them. Because right now, she and her partner were the only ones. In the whole city. They wanted to dust for fingerprints, but the department couldn’t afford the powder. (She said Baltimore County gave them some a while back,but they ran out.)

    (They’re also shutting down fire stations. And a big red X spray-painted on a door means “nobody lives here so don’t bother; just keep the nearby houses from catching.”)

    I can imagine the police department letting a questionable officer slide, just because they can’t afford to hire and train another. =/

    Charm City, y’all.

  120. 120
    Weedless Monkey

    I own a knife like that *because* I live in Baltimore.

    and you have a fantasy about hurting someone with said knife.

    I own knives, big and small, because they are useful tools. I don’t carry them outside where I need them.

  121. 121
    David Marjanović

    Charm City, y’all.

    Failed state. Representation without taxation.

  122. 122
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    rahulkedia:

    Does no else find this very disturbing?

    Several of us do.
    This is one more thing I don’t like about Erlend Meyer.

  123. 123
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    This is one more thing I don’t like about Erlend Meyer.

    I’ve been wondering if the ‘nym is really a name, or play on a common piece of a chemical laboratory equipment: Erlenmeyer flask.

  124. 124
    Erlend Meyer

    Jeeez. Of course normal reason must come into place, there’s a huge difference between a playful bite or and an attack. But yes, many dogs should be put down in my view. I don’t tolerate aggressive behavior towards humans, that is totally unacceptable in my view. Blame it on the dog or on the owner, I don’t care. The damage is most likely done, it’s hard to correct such behavior and not always that reliable.
    You want to put the time and money needed to cure it, fine by me. But all those dogs that can’t be fixed or where the owner refuses to take responsibility, put them down. We have no need for them.

    Imagine that these pets were manufactured products (cyborg pets for instance), would aggressive behavior towards people be considered acceptable? People would be screaming for the manufacturer to fix the problem. I know we’re talking about living creatures here, but we must have some clear standards for acceptable behavior.

  125. 125
    ledasmom

    Erlend Meyer:
    We have a cat at work right now (I work at a vet’s) who was surrendered because she attacked her owners. She will growl and nip at you if you do something she doesn’t like; usually that’s approaching her when she’s in one of her hidey-holes (box, shelf) or picking her up when she doesn’t want. This same cat, if allowed to approach on her own, will fling herself down against your leg and purr ground-shakingly, begging to be patted and combed (even on the tail, which many cats won’t allow). She will allow herself to be bundled back into her cage quickly (very necessary if a dog is coming into the room) without so much as a growl if you are respectful towards her. She will always need careful handling and an understanding owner.
    Do we have no need of this cat?
    Incidentally, if anyone knows of someone who lives in Massachusetts or nearby who would like a youngish (2 or 3 years) longhaired cat, and who can provide a reasonably quiet and understanding home for such cat, she really is a dear. Right now she is depressed due to a kitten invasion.

  126. 126
    Inaji

    Erlend Meyer:

    You want to put the time and money needed to cure it, fine by me. But all those dogs that can’t be fixed or where the owner refuses to take responsibility, put them down. We have no need for them.

    Y’know, you’re fast reaching the point where you’ll merit nothing outside of an “oh, Erlend. Fuck off, Erlend” from most everyone here.

    You seem to be completely unaware of the fact that animals come with their very own personalities. Animals are also shaped to a significant degree by their environment, just like us human animals. There are indeed some animals who can’t be fixed, just as there are human animals who can’t be fixed. They aren’t the majority, thankfully. Most animals can be rehabilitated. As for your “we” have no need for them, stop being such a fucking ignoranus, Erlend, and learn to speak for yourself. I’ve spent decades having a need for such animals, it’s called rescue, you flaming dipshit.

    Imagine that these pets were manufactured products (cyborg pets for instance), would aggressive behavior towards people be considered acceptable? People would be screaming for the manufacturer to fix the problem.

    When it comes to animals, people tend to be the cause of problems. I suggest you figure out a way to fix people, Erlend. Start with yourself. Once more, you continue to consign a wealth of behaviour into the word aggressive, and refuse to put it into any meaningful context. I have pet rats. Most rats won’t bite, however, if they are stressed, ill, cornered or feel threatened, they might bite, and rat bites are very painful. I know that from experience, because I’ve rescued abused rats. They don’t continue to bite because I get to know them, and understand what they want and need, and provide it. Ta da! I now have a non-bitey animal.

  127. 127
    Graculus

    david marjanovic the experiment where he bred the foxes for aggression. yep, but the stock he started from was the original, highly variable, stock… that would be like starting from wolves, not dogs. The personality differences between wolves and dogs are several, but among them is that dogs have an extremely narrow range of human aggression on the bottom of the scale, wolves have a very wide range of that behaviour trait. It is this trait that’s developmentally linked to the drop ears and curled tails of the domestic stock, IIRC. It’s a marvelous experiment.

    Amphiox: Specialized dogs, such as war dogs, hunting dogs, etc are high status, expensive items. Expensive in both food and specialized personnel, which means said personnel are not “disposable”. And you’d be working against over *10,000 years* of breeding for low human aggression – not something you can overcome in a couple of generations. Breeds are populations. You’re saying an entire population of dogs were bred to be one-use weapons (your own troops couldn’t hit the battlefield until all the dogs were dead, if your proposal were true) – not a great way to establish the traits you’re interested in, especially if you can get the same effect without all that trouble.

    Prey drive and protection drive can look like aggression when you’re on the working end of the dog’s pearly whites, but no, it’s not the same thing.

    I often carry a knife.. as a tool.

  128. 128
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Erlend Meyer:

    But yes, many dogs should be put down in my view. I don’t tolerate aggressive behavior towards humans, that is totally unacceptable in my view. Blame it on the dog or on the owner, I don’t care. The damage is most likely done, it’s hard to correct such behavior and not always that reliable.

    Aren’t you just a swell asshole.
    One of my dogs (he’s really my roommates, but I care for him enough that I consider him mine) bit me a few weeks back. Nothing serious. I had a treat I was going to give him and he got excited and lept for it before I was ready (no, he hasn’t been fully trained with treats yet). His bite didn’t break the skin, and only mildly hurt. That wasn’t a playful bite, nor was it an aggressive bite. Are you capable of understanding context and nuance, or do you think I should have put him down bc he bit me?

    Quit with the godsdamned binary thinking. The world isn’t black and white.

  129. 129
    ledasmom

    Incidentally, I have been bitten by: hamsters; mice; a rabbit; a garter snake; a chipmunk; a very small owl; a horse; cats, twice. Most of these were when I was much younger; all were either my fault or the completely foreseeable result of a necessary action on my part. None of these animals were put down and none of them should have been, though one of them put me in the hospital.
    I used to have a cat who bit vets. Neither the vet nor I ever considered that to be behavior meriting death.

  130. 130
    Rob Grigjanis

    Erlend Meyer:

    I don’t tolerate aggressive behavior towards humans

    I don’t tolerate ignorance, but somehow, you’re still around. There ought to be a law.

    Your thoughtful comments represent the attitudes that lead to graphs like this. If it ain’t human and it annoys you or gets in the way, fuck it. Right?

  131. 131
    Anton Mates

    Erlend Meyer,

    We don’t accept having children chained up in the back yard, does that mean dogs shouldn’t either?

    Thirding-fourthing others on this. Dogs should not be kept chained up anywhere–if you need to keep them confined while you’re gone, use a crate. (A DOG crate. Not a…crate crate.) And they should sleep indoors unless you live on, like, a really big farm with a mild climate. Even then, it’s risky. They can escape, they can get in a fight with a wild animal, they can be harassed by random idiot humans coming onto your property. If they need to sleep outside to serve a working or guardian function, fine, but you are placing them at risk.

    But all those dogs that can’t be fixed or where the owner refuses to take responsibility, put them down.

    Do you think this doesn’t already happen, for the most part? For every owner whose dog inflicts a serious bite and gets away with it, ten dogs are put down at the shelter for even a hint of aggressive behavior. Especially the fighting breeds.

    Amphiox @113,

    To say that “not a single” dog breed, ever, has been bred for aggressiveness to humans strains credulity

    Indiscriminately aggressive dogs are fairly useless on the battlefield, though, because dogs move extremely fast and if they’re attacking the first human they see, that’s probably one of your own soldiers. And attempts to train dogs to make a general distinction between “our guys” and “the enemy,” when in the midst of combat, have not been very successful.

    (This same issue severely limited use of war elephants in the ancient world–a pissed-off elephant hates everybody, so you basically gambled that it would charge in the right direction. That gamble often failed.)

    As far as I know, war dogs were bred for loyalty, protectiveness, and high resistance to stress. You didn’t really need to breed for anything else, temperament-wise, including elevated aggression. They’d bite if they were trained to bite, especially with the social support of a pack. But they never did very well against a large and organized army. It’s really hard to explain to a dog that it should go die heroically for its country.

    The Doberman is probably one of the breeds most recently bred as an human attack dog, and they do seem to have elevated levels of stranger-directed aggression, but also extremely low levels of owner-directed aggression. Basically, they’re just protective, and they do not pose an elevated bite risk if normally trained and socialized. And insulated from strange toddlers trying to smack them in the face.

    In fact, I’m not sure if this is just urban legend, but supposedly when Belyaev bred Silver Foxes for tameness, he also had a second comparison arm of the experiment where he bred the foxes for aggression. Presumably hose animals were ultimately destroyed

    Last I checked, the high-aggression line was still being bred for research purposes. (Ethically problematic as that is, I think; I’m not sure those animals are very happy.) Mind you, it’s actually a high fear aggression line. Those foxes are snapping at the handlers because they can’t retreat any farther inside their cages. If you let them out, they wouldn’t savage the nearest human, they’d just run the hell away.

  132. 132
    Inaji

    Erlend Meyer:

    I don’t tolerate aggressive behavior towards humans

    To go back to this for a moment, if this is true, how do you manage to keep breathing, Erland? The highest, most damaging, and most lethal amount of aggression aimed at humans comes from other humans. Or did you miss this somehow?

  133. 133
    Inaji

    ledasmom:

    a horse;

    I was bitten by a horse, fuuuuck, now that’s a bite. More of a chomp, really.

  134. 134
    Graculus

    Obviously in Erland’s world there are no working animals, and the only acceptable pets are goldfish.

  135. 135
    ledasmom

    What, no questions about the tiny owl? This was when I was a teenager volunteering at a wildlife rehab place. It was a young screech owl who lost a wing when its tree was chainsawed; the rest of the brood were fine (we had them all plus a random other screech owl, being kept until they could be released), and this one was to be used as a program animal and was having jesses put on. The towel slipped off its head and it nibbled my hand viciously, producing, well, a scratch. I would have liked to have a scar from being bitten by an owl, but frankly it barely hurt even while it was happening and I’ve had worse wounds from absent-mindedly scratching an itch.
    There are bites and bites; I’ve been nipped many times by a cat who had had enough of belly rubs, but they’re very good at not doing harm if they don’t want to. When they want to those teeth go in very fast. There’s a little knot of scar tissue just where the lines run together in my left palm to remind me of that, from my own cat under very heavy stress who got me on both hands within a couple seconds. Dogs, too, most bites are inhibited. Whether an animal is dangerous is a lot more complicated than “did it bite someone once?”, more complicated than “Might it bite somebody again under some set of circumstances?”

    The Doberman is probably one of the breeds most recently bred as an human attack dog, and they do seem to have elevated levels of stranger-directed aggression, but also extremely low levels of owner-directed aggression. Basically, they’re just protective, and they do not pose an elevated bite risk if normally trained and socialized. And insulated from strange toddlers trying to smack them in the face.

    I knew someone whose family bred Dobermans seriously – they did schutzhund training with them, and the dogs behaved beautifully except for a tendency to suddenly lift that long nose up between your legs from behind, which tended to make you jump.

  136. 136
    opposablethumbs

    I don’t tolerate aggressive behavior towards humans

    So you must spend a lot of time calling out racism, sexism, homophobia and other aggressive behaviours, right? Pretty much all day every day, in fact.
    Aggression towards humans comes overwhelmingly from other humans (like that wasn’t obvious).
    Also you appear to have less than zero grasp or knowledge of animal behaviour. Maybe you should stick to interacting with cyborgs

  137. 137
    ledasmom

    Obviously in Erland’s world there are no working animals, and the only acceptable pets are goldfish.

    I have been bitten by a goldfish. Well, gummed.

  138. 138
    David Marjanović

    david marjanovic the experiment where he bred the foxes for aggression. yep, but the stock he started from was the original, highly variable, stock… that would be like starting from wolves, not dogs. The personality differences between wolves and dogs are several, but among them is that dogs have an extremely narrow range of human aggression on the bottom of the scale, wolves have a very wide range of that behaviour trait.

    Good point!

  139. 139
    Numenaster

    ledasmom, you have the greatest collection of critter bite stories of anyone I know. Loved the owl story.

    I too have been gummed by goldfish. It tickles. The ferret bites, not so much. But as with the stories here, my ferrets only bit when they were stressed and in circumstances I should not have put them in. Likewise with the many nips I’ve gotten from cats.

  140. 140
    Amphiox

    Indiscriminately aggressive dogs are fairly useless on the battlefield, though, because dogs move extremely fast and if they’re attacking the first human they see, that’s probably one of your own soldiers. And attempts to train dogs to make a general distinction between “our guys” and “the enemy,” when in the midst of combat, have not been very successful.

    Ah, but the very fact that you can say this means that someone, somewhen, somewhere, has tried.

    Which means that breeding deliberately for aggression has been done. The breeders may not have been all to satisfied with the end result, but they did do it.

  141. 141
    Amphiox

    You’re saying an entire population of dogs were bred to be one-use weapons (your own troops couldn’t hit the battlefield until all the dogs were dead, if your proposal were true) – not a great way to establish the traits you’re interested in, especially if you can get the same effect without all that trouble.

    You cannot say that it is “not a great way” to do it and that “you can get the same effect without all that trouble” UNLESS someone has tried it and compared it to other methods and seen that it didn’t work very well, unless you wish to admit that your statement is pure speculation without any evidence behind it whatsoever.

    Where did the “common knowledge” come from that breeding dogs for focused aggression against enemies in command did not work well, or was too dangerous, if not from experience. Hence my point. It must have been done, at some point.

  142. 142
    Amphiox

    (This same issue severely limited use of war elephants in the ancient world–a pissed-off elephant hates everybody, so you basically gambled that it would charge in the right direction. That gamble often failed.)

    And yet those War Elephants existed, and were used in battle. This is not an argument against my point.

  143. 143
    Amphiox

    Amphiox: Specialized dogs, such as war dogs, hunting dogs, etc are high status, expensive items. Expensive in both food and specialized personnel, which means said personnel are not “disposable”.

    History is FULL of examples of highly trained, specialized, expensive personnel who nevertheless were considered disposable and subject to huge risk by the elites of the day. Indeed in many cases it was the more expensive the better, as their risk and subsequent disposal made all the better a status display for the elite class’ wealth and power.

    Again, not a valid counter argument to my point.

  144. 144
    busterggi

    Anyone else out there been bitten by a frog? C’mon, raise your hands.

  145. 145
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    busterggi:
    I have never been bitten by a frog.
    Been peed on by one as I’ve tried to put it somewhere safely, but not bitten.

  146. 146
    busterggi

    Tony!:
    try rehabing an injured one and feeding insects by hand. Their aim isn’t what all those wildlife shows would like you to believe but their tongues are strong enough to pull them up onto a finger they confuse with food.

  147. 147
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    busterggi:

    I’m totally getting a mental image of that right now.

  148. 148
    Anton Mates

    busterggi,

    Anyone else out there been bitten by a frog? C’mon, raise your hands.

    No frogs. I’ve been only bitten by a catfish (left an interesting imprint on my finger, like it was wearing asphalt dentures), an iguana, a stag beetle, a millipede,* a duck, about twenty crows (while banding them), and assorted dogs and cats and humans. Have not been bitten by a snapping turtle, because I put my shoes on my hands and ran circles around it like it was a video game boss so I could pick it up from behind and move it off the highway.

    *Yep, a millipede, not a centipede. I think it decided that my palm was the ground and it needed to burrow.

    Amphiox,

    Ah, but the very fact that you can say this means that someone, somewhen, somewhere, has tried.

    Which means that breeding deliberately for aggression has been done. The breeders may not have been all to satisfied with the end result, but they did do it.

    Nope, I said trained, not bred. I’m thinking of WWII specifically, when the US military tried to train dogs to selectively attack Japanese soldiers on Pacific islands. Didn’t work very well.

    In any case, nobody’s claiming that no human has ever attempted to breed a really bitey dog. People do lots of weird things and it’s hard to prove a negative! Graculus’ original point (at 98) was that no dog breed is the result of breeding for general aggression. In 107, Graculus added that war dogs have instead been bred to increase some pre-existing drive (e.g. prey drive, or protectiveness). This increases the likelihood of them biting the “right” people–in a given context, when trained for combat–but does not increase the risk of their biting when owned and trained properly by civilians.

    Again, consider this study on aggressive behavior across various dog breeds. They found increased aggression toward all humans in dachshunds, chihuahuas and Jack Russell terriers; increased aggression toward owners in cocker spaniels and beagles; and increased aggression toward strangers in cattle dogs.

    Notice something about that list? They’re not war dogs. Or fighting dogs, or attack dogs, for that matter. None of those breeds were developed for the purpose of attacking humans. Their elevated levels of aggression are an undesirable side effect of other traits for which they were bred–including stuff like simply being small, which makes it more likely that tactless humans will loom over them and freak them out.

    One of the best examples of heritably elevated aggression in dogs is the “rage syndrome” found in some lines of springer spaniels. Contrary to popular belief, this is pretty much on a continuum with ordinary territorial/resource-guarding/dominance aggression, but it’s amped up so much that some of these dogs can’t be safely owned without SSRIs.

    Did this arise from breeding springer spaniels to kill people? Of course not. Specific lines of springer spaniels were bred for “good conformation” in the show ring, i.e. a tendency to stand up extremely straight and stiff. Turns out, a dog standing in that posture is generally not in a good mood; it’s an aggression display. Show breeders were actually selecting for spaniels with more extreme and frequent aggression displays, which correlate with higher likelihoods of biting humans. The breeders just didn’t know that, or didn’t care.

    TL;DR: Dangerous aggression in dogs is mostly due to poor training or abuse, not genetic factors. The genetic factors which are relevant are not the result of deliberate human breeding for aggression, and are not concentrated in breeds developed to fight humans. Quite the contrary, in fact.

    And yet those War Elephants existed, and were used in battle. This is not an argument against my point.

    But those elephants were not bred for aggression. As with dogs, genetically increased levels of aggression against random humans would be a liability on the battlefield, not an asset. They were already aggressive enough by nature.

    Again: we’re not claiming that animals have not been used, trained, and bred to fight humans. We’re not claiming that no human on Earth has ever tried to breed a super-aggressive dog. The claim is that no breed of dog which actually exists was deliberately and successfully bred for increased levels of generalized human aggression. Thus, there are no breeds out there which cannot be safely owned because they were bred to attack humans.

    If you don’t disagree with that, there’s no argument here.

  149. 149
    Amphiox

    In any case, nobody’s claiming that no human has ever attempted to breed a really bitey dog. People do lots of weird things and it’s hard to prove a negative!

    On the contrary Graculus @98 claimed exactly that.

    Breeds have different personalities, but not a single dog breed has been bred to be aggressive towards humans. Ever.

    Bolding is mine.

    And it was that specific post that I responded to first that initiated this whole conversation string.

    Also “aggressive towards humans” doesn’t just mean “really bitey”. There are plenty of other traits that can be bred for that would count as “aggressive towards humans”.

  150. 150
    Amphiox

    Again: we’re not claiming that animals have not been used, trained, and bred to fight humans. We’re not claiming that no human on Earth has ever tried to breed a super-aggressive dog. The claim is that no breed of dog which actually exists was deliberately and successfully bred for increased levels of generalized human aggression.

    The posts that I replied to did not in any way shape or form include the qualifiers that you are now adding, of “actually existing now” or “successfully” bred, or “generalized”. The claim that I was responding to was explicitly that NO such breed EVER existed, in the entirety of human history with dogs, regardless of ultimate success of the breeding program (even a failed breeding program must have had some individual animals in it at some point in history, and those would have been animals bred for violence against humans). And the claim I was originally responding to made no distinction between “generalized” aggression against humans versus specific aggression, or aggression at specific times only on command.

  151. 151
    Anton Mates

    On the contrary Graculus @98 claimed exactly that.

    Reread your quote. Graculus @98 is referring to dog breeds, in response to a poster claiming that fighting dog breeds are more dangerous. This is not a claim about every dog-breeding attempt in human history; it addresses only the attempts that actually produced a recognized breed.

    Or so it seems to me. Am I misreading you, Graculus?

    And the claim I was originally responding to made no distinction between “generalized” aggression against humans versus specific aggression, or aggression at specific times only on command.

    Graculus @107 made the distinction between generalized aggression and specific drives, well before your response.

  152. 152
    Inaji

    busterggi @ 144:

    Anyone else out there been bitten by a frog? C’mon, raise your hands.

    I was almost bitten by a Pyxicephalus once. Barely got my fingers out of the way. Have you seen the fuckin’ teeth on those buggers? The same frog lunged at my face once. Luckily, my camera was in the way.

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