The dog has been separated from his handler since then. An investigation is now underway which will also be reviewed by a number of experts including K-9 training firms and former law enforcement officers.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of animal abuse that may be distressing to some readers.
An unnamed North Carolina cop has come under fire for abusing his K-9 companion during a training exercise. The dog has been identified as 4-year-old Zuul. According to The New York Times, Chief Jerry Stokes of the Salisbury Police Department said that the dog has been separated from the officer. He also did not comment on the incident during a news conference, noting that it was "an ongoing personnel matter." Zuul was also present at the conference. "You can see him here today," Chief Stokes said. "He’s healthy and doing well and will be in service as normal in the near future." He added, "The canine was not harmed and is healthy and being well cared for."
Fire him!— MC (@corvette72778) March 4, 2021
North Carolina cop slams K-9 into SUV during training, disturbing video shows https://t.co/92ltt87J32
It is unclear when the video was recorded, but the minute-long footage shows just how heartless the cop is towards the dog. The disturbing video begins with the officer giving a command to his police dog, Zuul, after the animal gets out of an SUV during a training session, reports New York Post. The dog runs and then adopts a crouching position. The officer walks towards him, ties a leash around his neck, and lifts him up over his shoulder with the leash. The officer then walks towards the vehicle and slams the dog into it. After which, he pushes the dog back inside the car and hits him. Someone off-camera, who knows this is wrong, laughs, and says, "We’re good, no witnesses."
Officer must be fired. He's sick. And he KNEW what he was doing was wrong, hence his asking about "witnesses" and whether "cameras were off." SICK!!!! What is wrong with you?— A.J. Delgado (@AJDelgado13) March 3, 2021
"Is your camera on?" a second off-camera voice asks. "Ah, no, my power’s off," the person who appears to be recording, says. An investigation is underway, and it will be reviewed by a number of authorities including canine experts, K-9 training firms, and former law enforcement officers. Stokes said that the officer's actions were a part of the training course, but did not comment on the methods employed.
During the conference, Chief Stokes said, "When a canine is noncompliant with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog. Canine training tactics and corrective measures can sometimes be alarming out of context. S.P.D. cannot and will not comment about whether the training tactics used in the video were appropriate, because that is still being reviewed."
Veteran dog handlers believe that this video is a prime example of what one shouldn't do while training K-9 companions. "By slinging the dog over his shoulder, carrying him back, he’s cutting off that blood supply and air for several seconds, and then by throwing him in the vehicle the way he did, he risked causing some cervical spine or cerebral spine injuries to the dog," Ron Taylor, a handler of more than 20 years, told Fox 46. Taylor added that the potential damage could cost a lot. “Now going forward, the dog’s going to have to reconsider whether he gets out of the car at all," Taylor said. A former police officer who trained dogs for law enforcement agencies, Kyle Heyen, wonders what the officer would do in a real-life situation given the treatment meted out to the dog during training. "The actions of the handler were not appropriate," Heyen said. “If you’re frustrated because that dog came out at that point in time and you respond with that much frustration, it just makes you wonder what that officer is going to do in a real-life situation."
Anybody who is willing to handle a dog like that should not be responsible for protecting and serving humans. Behavior towards animals is indicative of actions towards people. Disgusting. Should be fired IMMEDIATELY.— Alexandra Doten (@adotes) March 3, 2021
Netizens were not having it and fumed at the officer's deliberate mistreatment of the dog. Georgia Hindsman shared on Facebook: Fire him. If he treats his partner this way he will treat people this way. The officer is cruel and deceitful. Carole Diaz Gonzales added: Animal cruelty is inexcusable! The dog did nothing wrong. After all he didn’t command the dog to stay when he walked away from the SUV. The dog obediently stayed after he screamed at the poor German shepherd! Fire this cop, he has an awful temper! Michael Bellamy wrote: And some people don’t think cops like him are trigger happy and kill innocent people. If he would do this type of harm to his own partner in crime, mans best friend. Just Imagine what else he would do for the hell of it.
Honestly the way he screamed at the dog and the way he laid down makes me think the dog has been abused like this frequently and is already suffering from it— M (@M96037085) March 5, 2021