FLORIDA CITY, Fla. – An online petition is calling for the termination of a Florida City police officer who shot and killed a dog Tuesday morning after it ran out the front door of a home when the officer knocked on the door.
The officer was identified Wednesday as Marcus Terry, who has been with Florida City police for five years.
The dog's owner, Gillian Palacios, told Local 10 News that the officer knocked on her door at 832 SW Seventh St. to inform her that she had left her car door open.
She said her 2-year-old, 40-pound bulldog-mix Duchess ran outside and was shot three times in the head by Terry.
Palacios said the officer told her, "Your dog charged me," and then left, telling her that Animal Services would be by to pick up the dog.
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Animal advocates and the Palacios family were outraged by the shooting, claiming Terry had no reason to shoot the dog.
"She was curious. She wasn't barking (and) she wasn't growling," Palacios said. "There was no reason for him to think she was aggressive in any way."
The Palacios family fosters and rescues dogs in the area and said it was barbaric how the officer killed their rescue dog.
"There were a million things he could have done other than shoot her three times in the head," Palacios said.
Florida City police spokesman Officer Ken Armenteros said the police department is "gathering all the facts at this time."
"We don't have the luxury of hind sight," Armenteros said. "We have to use the information that is given to us in a split second. So, the officer has to make that decision with the information that he has available."
According to the creators of the "Puppycide" documentary, a dog is shot by law enforcement officers every 98 minutes.
"When we first learned about puppycide, we assumed that these must be cases of police responding to threats on their lives from dogs trained to attack by criminal owners. That couldn't be further from the truth," filmmakers Patrick Reasonover and Michael "Oz" Ozias wrote on their Kickstarter page. "We found scores of videos and news stories about dogs who were laying down, tails wagging, even running away but still shot by officers who used lethal force as their first and only response."
The filmmakers said their documentary also explores the police perspective of dog-involved shootings.
"While some incidents involve callous officers too quick with the trigger, we found the issue is much bigger than that," the filmmakers said. "The lack of repercussions, policy changes, new equipment, or apologies, demonstrate how systemic this problem is. Experts have explained in interviews how police officers are not currently offered the simple training, tools, and support they need to change."
Terry has had many commendations over the past year, including eight in 2015. He had a single reprimand this year in February when he struck a mailbox with his patrol car and left the scene. Terry's sergeant recommended that he be fired, but a lieutenant who reviewed the investigation found that the incident did not meet the criteria for termination.
Terry was suspended for one day for hitting the mailbox.
As of Wednesday, the petition calling on the department to fire the officer had more than 14,000 signatures.
Click here if you wish to sign the petition or visit YouSign Animals' Facebook page.
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