Precious Gets Popped

See this cute white pit bull, Precious?

If you believe Joe, a homeless Texan who often preached about the Lord in Dupont Circle, she is just a lovable and harmless squirrel chaser.

If you believe the U.S. Park Police, she was aggressively running toward an officer who shot her in apparent self defense.

Which ever version is true, according to the WashPost, the end result is the same:

[Joe] lay in front of the dog’s body, which was covered with a blue blanket, until the Humane Society took the dog away. “She’s gone now, she’s dead, she’s dead,” Joe said, sobbing.

23 Comments so far

  1. Don (unregistered) on September 12th, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

    I’m sure I’ll ruffle feathers with this one but-

    If I was out somewhere and a big old pitbull-sized dog came running at me and I had a gun on my hip… yah, I’d shoot it. Maybe a few times, just to be sure it wouldn’t get up and bite me.

    Maybe the dog really was just chasing squirrels, or it was just running up to the cop because it thought it smelled a bacon treat. Maybe it’s the sweetest dog in the world. None of these things could be known by the officer when the dog is running at him – he’s got a second or two to react to an uncontrolled animal that’s big enough to maul him coming his way.

    I’m sad the dog got shot, but I do wonder – how many other people did that unleashed dog scare prior to this, who just didn’t happen to be armed? There’s only one villian in this story and it’s Joe, who should have kept his dog on a lead for everyone’s safety, including Precious’.

  2. wayan (unregistered) on September 12th, 2006 @ 5:20 pm

    While you’re gonna burn in hell, puppy killer, thinking about this more, I’m more worried about the cop poping off rounds in busy, crowded Dupont Circle.

    The title of this post could’ve easily been “Cops tag random bystanders while trying to shoot too-quick dog”

  3. PoochLover (unregistered) on September 12th, 2006 @ 6:54 pm

    My worry is that if the cop will do that to a dog because he is worried about his safety, then he wouldn’t hesitate to do that to an unarm person. Trigger-happy cops don’t belong in the “serve and protect” business. Remember that kid that was killed at IHOP in Alexandria? Trigger-happy off-duty cop.

  4. Richard (unregistered) on September 12th, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

    The dog should have been on leash. ESPECIALLY A DOG WITH THAT KIND OF REPUTATION. A side point, why do so many homeless people choose to burden themselves with caring for a pet?… made my point again. Joe wasn’t caring for his pet, it was off leash.

  5. wayan (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 9:13 am

    Homeless, just like homeowners, seek pets for companionship and unconditional love, both quite lacking in the lives of the transient.

    Cops, on the other hand, might do better with a pet. This one, puppy killer, could learn the differenc ebetween squirrel chasing and cop biting dogs.

  6. Robis (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 9:17 am

    Richard, homeless people don’t burden themselves with caring for a pet, the relationship is symbiotic. A dog will serve as a protector in cities/areas that are unfamiliar, or when danger is imminent (like kids who want to harrass a bum, thieves, etc). That’s why they don’t keep their dogs on a leash—-because a dog on a leash is not very good at chasing away a thief when he only has so much lead.

    Now, I know this, and I’m not the most homeless-savvy person. A cop, who is supposed to be much more savvy than I am, should have known not only who Joe is but also who the dog was; he should have known what purpose a dog serves in this context. The fact that he couldn’t figure out what was going on suggests not only did he not have the knowledge needed to do his job properly, but that he didn’t have the skills to suss out what was going on. And on top of that he was trigger happy, shooting first and asking questions later.

    All that said, how can we trust such a person in other cases, ones where the next life he blows away isn’t an innocent human life?

  7. danny (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 10:09 am

    Oh please Robis — give me a break — you think police are taught such things. Dogs need to be on leashes — thats city policy and if they aren’t they must suffer the consequences like all other ppl who break laws. How do you think we people who fear dogs feel about unleashed dogs — you have no idea the terror I feel as I walk by an unleashed dog unsure of whether he will jump up on me and slobber me with his saliva or take a bite out of my leg.

  8. PoochLover (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 10:18 am

    Police also have something called radios/phones to call animal control, if he had seen the dog unleashed. Again, regardless of how you look at this, the cop’s action is excessive force.

  9. Robis (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 10:37 am

    Yes, Danny, police are taught such things. Police are taught to examine situations and make appropriate judgement calls, and above all, remain calm and in charge of a situation. This cop didn’t do that.

    Now, I would suggest that, based upon your post, your fear of dogs is coloring your perspective on this issue. You say that dogs should be on leashes and I would agree with you. But how many times do we see police shooting dogs in the street that aren’t on leashes? I see dogs off their leashes all over the place, so there should be alot more incidents of dog shooting than just this one. If shooting dogs because they are not on their leash is an appropriate response (and that’s what you are saying when you justify the cop’s actions by appealing to that fact), it should be happening all over the place.

  10. Mike (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 11:14 am

    I don’t see how a dog off a leash provides better protection than a dog on a leash. It seems a dog on a leash is always in close proximity to you and thus provides better protection than when it’s off chasing squirrels, not worse.

    Letting your dog off its lead in Dupont Circle is stupid and reckless regardless of the breed and regardless of whether you’re homeless or not. It’s dangerous for the dog (forget cops, if it followed one of the squirrels it was supposedly chasing into the street it’ll be a goner). It’s inconsiderate of people in the park and it could lead to a dog fight if it ran up to a dog that felt threatened by a strange unleashed dog coming up to it and its owner (a reaction my dog would likely have).

    Sure it would have been ideal if the cop had used pepperspray instead of a gun but he never should’ve been placed in the situation. Letting a pit bull run loose around a small crowded park that’s enclosed by a busy road completely goes against common sense. It’s not the cop’s fault that was happening.

  11. wayan (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 11:16 am

    Mike: It is the cops fault that hot lead when into soft puppy flesh.

  12. Kevin (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 10:39 pm

    It’s sad to read the comments from people who blame Joe for this senseless tragedy.

    I happened to be in DC this week to attend a conference and was in Dupont Square the day Joe’s dog Precious was gunned down.

    I had been sitting on a bench and watched Joe happily walk by me with his dog Precious (on her leash) and he sat down on a bench about 30 feet from where I was sitting. Precious sat up on the bench with him. After about ten minutes Joe asked another gentleman to watch his dog and other belongings while he ran across the street. The man agreed and sat about 10 feet from Precious. Precious just layed on the bench, occassionally looking back for his owner. Precious sat there calmly until his owner returned about 10 minutes later, even while other dogs walked by with there owners. Some dogs barking, Precious’ ears just perking up.

    Joe greeted Precious with affection when he returned, Precious obviously happy to see her owner again. Joe sat down with his dog and Precious remained on his leash.

    About 15 minutes later I heard a man (the patrolman) yell something, startled I looked up and saw Precious at a tree (not sure if he just chased a squirrel or relieved herself). She was about 20 feet in front of me, the patrolman (in a direct line) about 15 feet in front of Precious. Startled too, I saw Precious move toward the Patrolman. I then heard Joe yell something that sounded like “no, No”, I looked toward the patrolman who had his gun drawn and shot at Precious, hitting her which appeared to be in her shoulder. Precious yelped and stumbled and rolled on her back, eventually landing on her side, dead. Joe was visually and audibly in extreme pain, as if he had just lost his best friend. He ran toward his Precious asking Why , why?? As I asked myself “why”?

    Many thoughts ran through my head. Why? why would a patrolman pull his gun and shoot a dog in a crowded park at 5:50pm, in the middle of rush hour, with many pedestrians returning from work walking through Dupont Cirlce, Moms and Dads walking with their children. His shot was directly toward me, i just happened to be 20 feet behind Precious.

    Why, would he yell at and startle the Dog who was preoccupied with something at the tree?

    If he thought Precious was a threat to his life, why wouldn’t he have another means of subdueing her? (stun gun, mace?)

    This was just a senseless tragedy. I can’t stopping thinking about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about Joe, where did he sleep that night, was he ok? I looked for him the next day. I’m sure Precious was the most important thing in his life.

    Can’t we do better than this in America?

  13. PoochLover (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 9:43 am

    This is blatant animal abuse and the perp should be punished. Damn, where is the justice for Joe and for Precious? Isn’t there an animal rights group out there who can charge this a-hole with murder? If they can drag a cat lady for having too many cats in her home, murder of a pet should be the worse offence.

  14. Mike (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 11:22 am

    Animals rights groups advocate proper care for your pets — that means keeping your pet out of harm’s way, which Joe did not do.

    The post article says this cop had warned Joe to put Precious on a leash. If so, why didn’t Joe do that? The officer may very well have exercised bad judgement, but the officer never would have had a chance to exercise bad judgement if Joe had done what 99% of dog owners would have done and looked out for his dog.

    I feel for Joe, and I know this sounds harsh, but as a DC dog-owner I’m glad there’s one less chance of my dog and I coming upon an unleashed pit bull in a public park.

  15. Don (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

    She was about 20 feet in front of me, the patrolman (in a direct line) about 15 feet in front of Precious. Startled too, I saw Precious move toward the Patrolman.

    That’s the only part of that story that matters – your prior observations about this dog weren’t something that officer could or should know.

    BIG DOG NOT ON LEASH COMING AT YOU. That’s what the officer knew and what the officer should be judged on.

    It’s sad to read anyone blaming anyone BUT Joe for this result.

  16. Funny Man (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 5:41 pm

    Great, and there goes my Halloween costume. I was gonna dress up like a cute puppy and run towards Park Police officers…

  17. Don (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 7:26 pm

    Yeah, a cute puppy.

  18. Kevin (unregistered) on September 15th, 2006 @ 5:20 am

    Don, Did you also witness this incident first hand? Sounds like you saw this dog, to clarify, Precious was NOT A BIG DOG. I don’t believe i said the dog was aggressing toward the police officer. If the officer has a real fear of Dogs, maybe he shouldn’t be carrying a gun (especially in crowded places). Maybe he shouldn’t be yelling at dogs that are preoccupied with chasing squirrels. The whole time I was sitting on the park bench (about 30 min) the dog was on a leash. The first time I saw the dog off her leash was when i saw her at the tree. Could she have somehow gotten accidently loose from her leash and chased a squirrel?

    Believe me, i am not some dog loving, police hating extremist. I just saw what i saw, which was on over reaction in a crowded place that could have had more devasting results.

    It is my understanding that Joe and Precious were well known to the area. I wonder if the same scenario would have taken place if the dog owner was a well dressed business person who’s dog had gotten loose to chase a squirrel.

    Lastly Don, it is sad that you don’t find homelessness in our Nations capital something that matters.

    Again, Can’t we do better than this in America?

  19. Don (unregistered) on September 15th, 2006 @ 12:57 pm

    I don’t see this as having anything to do with homelessness, sorry. It’s a dog off its lead, something that I don’t approve of for the homeless, middle-class or filthy stinking rich. You keep talking about all these other things you saw beforehand or what was “well known” – a claim that isn’t supported by any of the articles or subsequent media coverage. It’s all irrelevant. An officer was forced to make a split-second decision about an animal headed his way, whose motivations and intentions he could not know.

    He was forced to make that decision because an irresponsible pet owner made a bad choice.

    It’s unfortunate that the pet owner in question has a bad lot in life, and it’s statistically likely that he’s got some form of mental illness and may be chronically unable to make good decisions. That doesn’t change the reality of the situation the officer had to deal with. When someone runs out in front of a speeding car there’s an inevitable result, whether the person be a jogger, attempted suicide, mentally ill – it doesn’t matter what the motivation was.

    As far as “not a big dog” – that’s just a nonsense claim. The breed ranges from 80 to 100 pounds typically, and even if she was a runt and 40lb that’s more than big enough to mangle the hell out of your arm or leg if she’s hostile. You, in your infinite pre-informed wisdom, are completely sure she wasn’t and never could be. Too bad the cop wasn’t a mind reader and able to know it too when she ran at him.

  20. kevin (unregistered) on September 15th, 2006 @ 2:04 pm

    “You keep talking about all these other things you saw beforehand or what was “well known” – a claim that isn’t supported by any of the articles or subsequent media coverage.”

    Don, do you believe there were WMD’s in Iraq because you read it in the paper or heard it in the news?

    Again, to correct your misinformation or educated assumption, the dog did not run toward the officer. I am astonished you know “the reality of the situatoin that the officer had to deal with” without witnessing this incident.

  21. Don (unregistered) on September 15th, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

    Gosh, where did I get the impression that the dog moved towards the officer? Oh, I remember:

    “Startled too, I saw Precious move toward the Patrolman.”

    Maybe you’d like to come back when you’ve managed to get your own story straight.

  22. Kevin (unregistered) on September 15th, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

    Don’s interpretation (non-witness) “Too bad the cop wasn’t a mind reader and able to know it too when she RAN AT HIM.”

    Eye Witness: “I saw Precious MOVE toward the Patrolman.”

    See the difference between “Ran At Him” and “Move Toward”? Just remember the media showed up at the scene AFTER the dog was gunned down. My account is an UNEDITED eye witness account.

    I see you buy right into the sensationalism of news reporting. Your interest in this story and the need to defend your points for a nonobserver is puzzling to me. It’s ok to realize you might have been fooled by all the hype and media.

  23. Mike (unregistered) on September 15th, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

    Kevin, did you watch the Channel 9 report I posted a link to in another entry? It showed an eyewitness who said (albeit melodramatically) that the dog was running in a bee-line towards the cop. It showed another eyewitness who said he believes the dog would’ve attacked if the cop hadn’t shot.

    As has been pointed out, dogs off leashes aren’t uncommon. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the cop in question has dealt with many unleashed dogs in the past without shooting them, and that there’s a little bit more to this than him just shooting irrationally. I’m not saying he handled it perfectly but I still think the blame lies with the guy who intentionally let his dog off the leash and now claims he didn’t hear the cop’s orders to put his dog on a leash because he was listening to the news on his headphones.

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