Ernest Dempsey — The story of US soldier Sgt. Nick’s kindness to an abused dog in Afghanistan comes as living proof of the pride defenders of a nation can bring, for it instantiates the true meaning of bravery. Unfortunately, we have many stories of cowardice that bring shame to the good name of law enforcement right in America. One such incident, not highlighted in media, is that of a dog killed by a cop in Zebulon, North Carolina, earlier this month.
According to sources closely familiar with the incident, Orion, a dog saved from a shelter while only 4 months young and raised for nearly 8 years as a loved family member, was heartlessly shot dead by a cop right in the dog’s own yard. From the details available to the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, on May 5th, Orion’s owners were out of town for the weekend when they received a call from the landlord telling them that police was looking for them. When the owner called the given number, she was told that her dog (Orion) had been shot dead by a cop because the dog had attacked his fellow police officer.
Upon getting home and asking around, the family learnt that Orion had only followed the family’s little dog, a Chihuahua, running outside as Craig S. Ziencik, the officer in question, was looking at the house moving all around it after somebody in the neighborhood called the Zebulon police department to report a dog that had got loose from the house. As the sources told, it was Orion’s big size that made Officer Ziencik feel threatened and he didn’t spare a moment in taking out his gun and pulling the trigger on the dog that never attacked and never had been aggressive.
Orion’s killing literally wrecked the family’s peace and sense of security with so many questions seething with innocent blood. First, why would a neighbor call the police instead of animal control to bring a “loose dog” under control? This is what animal control is for; and if somebody is calling the cops, who are not trained to deal with animals, particularly non-violent and domestic pets, they are literally endangering the life of the animal and the peace of its family.
Secondly, what was Officer Ziencik doing walking around to the backyard of the house? Having received a complaint of a loose dog outside in the neighborhood, he was supposed to look for it in the streets, not in somebody’s house. But above all, as info available from the sources tell, even if the policeman felt threatened due to his own fear, why he never thought of scaring the dog or even hurting it non-fatally by using a taser gun or mace instead of firing bullets? In fact, the cop even didn’t stop at one bullet but shot Orion twice to make sure the end of its life.
While Orion’s family’s is still coming to terms with the feelings of loss and victimization, those most affected are the family’s children who have lost all faith in who they used to believe as their protectors; now, the word ‘police’ means fear and murder to them. Sadly, this is not the first case that cops get loose and pull the trigger on harmless family dogs in their own house where the cops are not supposed to be present at all. The killing of Big Daddy in North Carolina in April is still fresh in the memory of people who condemned irresponsible police officers making a terrifying appearance at houses and killing their pets.
Orion’s killing is a tragedy that no amount of compensation could ever make up for; but it will definitely add to the increasing awareness of civilians against the threat of uniformed men who are armed and have little training or courage to see a dog walking or running in its house. Indeed, Orion’s tragedy demands justice for the victim and a new, strict disciplinary code as well as better training for cops on how to deal with animals, which are family members, and which deserve to live in safety and peace just like humans do.