A disturbing video that appears to show an Ontario Provincial Police officer repeatedly running over a dog before shooting it is raising concerns about how police deal with wildlife.
“I’m a little bit in shock … I didn’t watch the video until [Wednesday] morning. It was enough to make me a lot more upset than I was last night,” the dog’s owner Karen Sutherland told CityNews.
“The way that she died, it wasn’t really how I wanted her to go,” Sutherland said.
Initially, it was thought that the officer ran over a coyote. Police said Wednesday it was a dog, and that officers were in touch with Sutherland.
Sutherland said her dog didn’t look like a coyote and “even if it was a coyote, I don’t think that’s how you should kill an animal.”
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Sutherland said she got her dog Merrick from a native reserve near Medicine Hat, Alta. She was a 21-year-old German Shepard/Australian cattle dog mix. She was deaf and feeble, but could still run around, especially in the snow.
“She was an awesome dog. She’s been all over Canada with me,” Sutherland said.
“I thought I had at least another year out of her before I would put her down in a nice way, without her dying that way.”
The video was recorded on a quiet Collingwood street at around 10:30 p.m. on Monday. It has since been posted on social media and shared thousands of times.
It appears to show a cruiser running over the dog three times before an officer exits the vehicle. A gunshot can then be heard.
The video is dark, but the sounds are skin-crawling as residents pant and scream while witnessing the disturbing scene.
“Look, he’s hitting it again,” a woman can be heard yelling. “Oh my god, he just ran the coyote over … Oh god, oh no, stop it. No!”
The OPP says the officer was responding to a complaint about a potentially rabid animal acting aggressively. They say in light of the video, they are now reviewing the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Sarah Leggett, who posted the video on her Facebook page, says it was recorded by one of her neighbours.
“It’s not right, it’s animal cruelty by far,” Leggett told CityNews. “Something needs to be done. Honestly, he should not get away with doing that, that’s wrong.”
The woman who called 911 told CityNews the dog looked like a coyote and growled at the officer. The officer had first called out to the animal, but it didn’t come. Sutherland had said that when she first realized her dog was missing, she called for her too – but stopped because Merrick is deaf.
The woman who called 911 added she has been “crying all morning” after hearing it was a dog.
It’s not the first time law enforcement has come under fire for their treatment of wild animals.
In 2013, Toronto police faced criticism for shooting and killing a coyote in the Beaches.
And this past summer, residents in Newmarket were outraged after a York Regional Police officer shot and killed a young black bear that had climbed a backyard tree.
Melissa Matlow, of World Animal Protection, says the latest video “raises the question of whether our police are equipped and trained to handle these situations humanely.”
Matlow adds that coyotes are rarely carriers of rabies.
“I just hope the OPP will take a look to see why this happened,” she said. “Because that was not a humane way of dealing with a wildlife issue.”
In a statement, the Ontario SPCA said it was aware of the situation and is in touch with the OPP.
“The OPP has the same jurisdiction as the Ontario SPCA, the matter is in their hands at this time,” the statement read.