THE SAD SAGA OF DIABLO THE DOG
What about the deputies?
The two lawmen, walking up the driveway, sent out by their sergeant, going to knock on the door, when the dog came snarling and sprinting out of the garage.
What about them?
Don’t they count for anything?
Is it all about the dog?
Is there no concern for the officers’ safety, for their life and limb?
Is the fear, pain and potential injury or death associated with a possible dog mauling of no relevance to anyone?
Or is it just Diablo? The barking pit bull with the fighter-cut ears. The one charging at the two deputies. Is the dog the only thing we care about?
It would seem so.
There are thousands of on-line signatures calling for the deputies to be fired. There were cash rewards offered for their death. A mixed crowd of pit-bull lovers and cop haters gathered in front of the sheriff’s department chanting and bellowing into bullhorns.
The biggest story in town is the death of a dog.
It was Friday night, about 11:30, and the deputies were sent out to a suburban address. The sergeant had driven by earlier in the evening and seen that the homeowner had parked his car across the sidewalk. It was an issue neighbors had complained and deputies had visited about. Between the parking and the barking dog and the loud parties, the sheriff’s computer shows 15 visits to the home in the last nine years.
And Friday night was one more.
The dog was loose behind an invisible fence, though apparently asleep inside the garage, the overhead door open a foot or two to let it in and out.
At some point, as the deputies came up the driveway, the dog awoke and did what dogs do – it came out barking, apparently intent on defending its home.
The sheriff said that the dog approached the deputies in an aggressive manner and that they, based on their observation of the situation, determined it was an imminent threat to their safety and used force to defend themselves.
According to the sheriff, the training of the deputies – and the standard of law enforcement – is to consider an attacking dog analogous to an armed assault by a knife-wielding attacker.
Because the injuries a dog can inflict are similar to those a knife can inflict.
Just two nights before the incident with Diablo, elsewhere in Monroe County, a dog attack left two people injured – one requiring surgery – and an innocent pet dog dead.
In the region, and across the country, there have been various dog maulings, some of which have left people injured, handicapped or dead.
One bite can do damage to nerves and muscles – or to arteries.
And police officers have to face that.
And they have to be ready to defend against that.
And these two deputies did.
In their judgment, they were in danger. And they did what their training told them to do. They shot the dog. They eliminated the threat.
And Diablo died.
It’s a sad thing.
It might even have been an unnecessary thing.
But it is what it is.
The owner, the dog and the deputies each acted reasonably, but the convergence of their actions led to a sad outcome. It’s not unreasonable for the owner to leave his dog out in a virtually fenced yard. It is not unreasonable for deputies on a call for service to walk up a driveway. It is not unreasonable for a dog to aggressively defend its turf. Neither is it unreasonable for deputies to shoot a dog they believe is attacking them.
But it all adds up to an unhappy outcome.
And, in this instance, it has also added up to a first-rate media campaign to crucify the deputies involved. From social media to an every-outlet-in-town approach to TV and radio, the owner of the dog and his surrogates have moved this story to the front of the line.
They have brought tremendous pressure to bear on the sheriff’s department. There are pictures of the dead dog, there has been a near-national marshaling of the very vocal and very passionate pit-bull community, and now the city’s professional activists have gotten on board. People who usually protest the war or capitalism or the police or the 1 percent have taken up Diablo’s cause.
And, of course, a lawyer has glommed on, with talk about emotional distress and therapy needs and the likelihood of a lawsuit.
In short, it’s turned into a circus.
It’s not about the dog, it’s about exploiting the dog.
And screwing the cops.
And across the community, people demanding sensitivity for an animal seem incapable of feeling it for a human. Given the choice between an attacking dog and two dutiful police officers, a loud and angry majority can think only of the dog.
And curse the cops.
It’s as if shooting this dog has been transmuted into some sort of social division rife with the emotion usually seen in disputes over race and class. Essentially, the deputies – and the community they represent – have been accused of something akin to racism, as if failing to “respect the rights” of this dog, and particularly this breed of dog, is some new species of bigotry which society must root out.
Which is all ridiculous.
A sad thing happened.
But the owner’s choices made it unavoidable.
The dog was free to run on its property. There was a door with a door bell, and the reasonable expectation that they were welcoming to visitors. There were no “Beware of Dog” signs. A situation was created by the owner in which the likelihood of troubling contact between visitors and the dog became dangerously high.
And when it did, the deputies defended themselves.
They couldn’t outrun the dog. They couldn’t use ineffective pepper spray. They couldn’t club it or taze it or talk it down. They had to defend themselves or get bitten.
And they defended themselves.
They acted reasonably.
But the protestors aren’t.
This whole thing is being played to attack the sheriff’s department and to pave the way for a cash settlement.
And to advance the agenda of people who accuse others of “breedism” for being wary of dogs they seem to worship.
It’s too bad the man lost his dog.
It’s too bad his choice to improperly restrain it led to its death.
It’s too bad we care more about dogs than we do cops.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2012