As Long As The Dog Is Happy, That’s All We Care About

, , , , , | Legal | January 13, 2021

This story takes place shortly after I am hired for my first job as a police officer. The city that hired me has a mandatory leash law for dogs. Sadly, some of my fellow officers have recently ended up shooting a few nuisance dogs, which has been spun in an effort to show that our department hates dogs.

One day, while I’m walking around my patrol area — in full uniform and with a running body camera — a large puppy turns the corner ahead of me, sees me, and sprints over in a rush of puppy excitement. The pup seems friendly and well-trained — at least for a puppy — and it’s wearing a collar, so after getting it to sit, I give it a scratch and kneel down to read the tag on the collar.

Suddenly, a woman turns the same corner the pup came from and starts sprinting over, screaming.

Woman: “Get away from my dog! Don’t you dare hurt him!”

Me: “Ma’am, it’s okay. He’s a friendly guy. I’m just taking a look at his tag.”

Woman: “Just let him go! He hasn’t done anything!”

Me: “The only thing I’m seeing wrong is that he doesn’t have a leash.”

Woman: “I have it right here.”

She pulls a leash out of her sweatshirt pocket and clips it to the pup’s collar.

Me: “Did he escape from your yard or something?”

Woman: “No, we were taking a walk. He likes to move faster than I do, so I let him off his leash so he can wander more. He doesn’t usually go this far away from me.”

Me: “Well, ma’am… based on that, I’m going to have to give you a citation for not having a leash on him.”

Woman: “You can’t do that! I didn’t know about the leash law, and I had a leash right here! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Me: *While writing out the citation* “Unfortunately, you just admitted that you intentionally let your dog walk without a leash. That’s illegal in [City], so I have to write a citation.”

Woman: *With a smug look now* “Well, he has a leash now, so you can’t prove anything!”

Me: “Ma’am, all [City] police officers wear body cameras. You and your dog have been on camera this entire time. I need your information for the citation.”

She glared at me and refused to give me her information, so I knelt down and started reading her name, address, and telephone number off the pup’s tag, making sure to hold the tag in a position where my body camera would get a good recording of it. When the woman realized what I was doing, she scoffed, dragged the pup away from me, and refused to take the completed citation when I tried to hand it to her.

She tried to fight the citation in court, but my body camera footage of the entire incident was more than enough for the judge to rule that the citation was legitimate.

On a happy note: a few months after her court appearance, the woman was arrested for some unrelated crimes and sentenced to a prison term. Because she lived alone and had nobody to take care of her now-adult dog, he was taken to a local animal shelter. Shortly after, he was adopted by another local family who have taken excellent care of him and his leash. I still see the dog most days when I’m on patrol, and I have started carrying a few dog treats in my pockets for him and the other friendly dogs in the neighborhood.

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