I like dogs, and I like cops.
Assuming they are good dogs, and good cops.
And I have read and researched cases where cops have freaked out when approached by a strange dog, drawn their weapons and fired. This often happens when cops are in a home trying to arrest someone and the dog goes into protection mode. It happens particularly with cops who don’t know, or fear, dogs.
In the case in the news now, FBI special agent Jacqueline Maguire shot and killed a dog on the street in Center City. That’s the overview, but that misses a lot of important detail.
Maguire was sitting on a bench in front of her building with her small dog in her lap, when Maria Esser came by, walking two leashed dogs.
Without warning, one of them, a 7-year–old pit bull named Mia, suddenly bolted and bit into Maguire’s dog and began aggressively shaking it.
When dogs grab prey and start shaking it, that’s a kill move.
Maguire attempted to separate the dogs, then drew her weapon, pressed it against Mia’s hindquarters and pulled the trigger. To protect the victim, her pet.
Some animal lovers are protesting and asking Maguire be fired. I am not because I have been in her situation.
About 25 years ago, I was walking my dog, on a leash, along the South Philadelphia H.S. athletic field at 10th and Bigler.
Another guy approached, with a Rottweiler off-leash, who jumped my dog as we were passing.
The Rottweiler got a small piece of my dog, then turned and pounced on her. My dog had never been in a fight in her life.
“Get your f—-ing dog under control!” I shouted as I slipped my hand into a pocket and came up with my .25.
I couldn’t release the leash to allow my dog to escape because she might have bolted into traffic on busy 10th street.
In the next second, I was thinking where to shoot the Rottweiler, who was big and brawny. My gun was small caliber.
Fortunately, the dog’s owner grabbed him by the collar and pulled him away. I pocketed the gun. The other guy never saw it, never knew his dog was 3 seconds away from being shot.
“He’s never done that before,” the guy said, perhaps by way of apology.
“Your dog should be leashed,” I growled, thinking I should have shot this idiot instead of the dog.
In Center City, Esser did have her pet on a leash, and maybe Mia had never done it before, but when your dog is attacked and is in danger of being killed, you have the unqualified right to use lethal force. No one knows what got into Mia’s mind, to drive her to an unprovoked attack. But she did.
It’s fine when it’s all over to say what Maguire should have done in the seconds after the attack began, when she saw her pet in danger. Adrenalin kicks in, you are in fight mode, you act. Hindsight is always 20-20.
By placing the gun against the pit bull, she was firing in the safest way, and at the dog’s hindquarters, not her head.
Mia might have survived, and it’s a shame she didn’t. I can understand Esser’s grief, but the fact is her dog attacked another and that is on her, no one else.
Based on the facts we know, Maguire acted to save her own pet and should be exonerated.