Police Investigating Officer's Fatal Shooting of Family Dog

Authorities are investigating an Anne Arundel County Police officer's actions after he shot and killed a family's dog. Vern, a Labrador retriever, confronted the officer in his yard.

Authorities are investigating an Anne Arundel County Police officer's actions after he shot and killed a family's dog. File|Patch
Authorities are investigating an Anne Arundel County Police officer's actions after he shot and killed a family's dog. File|Patch

The Anne Arundel County Police is investigating a confrontation Saturday afternoon when an officer searching for a burglary suspect shot and killed a Labrador retriever in the family’s front yard.

The unidentified officer was investigating a burglary in the 900 block of Lombardee Circle in Pasadena at about 4:12 pm. Feb. 1. The officer, a one year veteran of the agency went to the home at 905 Lombardee Circle. The dog, Vern, confronted the officer in the front area of the outside of the home, police said in a release, leading the officer to shoot twice,killing the dog.

The department’s release said it recognizes the sensitivity involved in a situation like this and understands that this is traumatic incident for the officer and for the family of the deceased dog. “A full investigative review will take place as we continue to gather the relevant facts in this case.”

Chief of Police Kevin Davis went to the family home.

"My deepest condolences go out to the family of Vern during this extremely difficult time," said Davis. "I personally met with the family at their residence to let them know that our department will be conducting an internal investigation into the incident to ensure that all of the pertinent facts are known, and to advance discussions regarding best practices for law enforcement when encountering animals."

Jannpls February 02, 2014 at 10:35 PM
Wait until AA co. lowers the hiring standards to meet diversity numbers !!
Virginia Moore February 03, 2014 at 02:23 PM
That is inexcusable! Of course a Lab will bark when a stranger enters his yard. Unless the owner was the suspect,I hope he ,the policeman is fired. If the homeowner was the culprit,make the officer do 500 hours of community service with a dog rescue. Disgusting!
skj February 09, 2014 at 07:19 AM
outrageous! prosecute him!
Bob Higginbotham February 09, 2014 at 09:33 AM
The officer should be relieved of all duties indefinitely and the selection criteria for new officers reviewed. Too many times the police are too quick to pull their weapons. The problem could reside in their selection or training or those responsible for such are inept. This should have never happened.
Jack Galvin February 09, 2014 at 10:03 AM
NO excuses...If you can't do an INVESTIGATION in a PUBLIC NEIGHBORHOOD where CITIZENS & PETS are around....Then you should be a FRY COOK at McDonalds not a POLICE OFFICER....
Chuck Burton February 09, 2014 at 12:18 PM
Why are not police, during their training, shown how to handle dog confrontations without violence. Not all officers have dogs of their own, and know how to defuse such situations, but they are certain to occur because so many people do share their lives with canine companions.
Sharon Cooper February 09, 2014 at 12:41 PM
If the Patch is going to simply print police reports as news, they shouldn't bother. Police reports aren't news: they're one sided statements issued to justify police actions. Vern was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, not a Lab. The report also states that the cop was looking for a burglary suspect but FAILS to mention that the family whose dog the cop killed has NOTHING to do with the burglary, and that the cop was simply asking QUESTIONS. No one even knew he was there. Nor does it mention his words to the dog's owner when he saw him: "I unloaded on your dog." Cold, calculating, unfeeling, and monstrous. News is the ENTIRE story, which you will find elsewhere.
james smith February 09, 2014 at 04:02 PM
WOW!!! Not much of the story is given, but all the commenters have taken the side of the dog. Dogs can do no wrong, you know. LOL I sure am glad you are not on a jury deciding my fate. I am beginning to think that people are as dumb as they look.
Kim Cooke February 09, 2014 at 06:25 PM
Jannpls, I'm not sure your comment can be construed in any way other than racist, and therefore a specious, hateful argument. Sharon, you are absolutely correct about the report not being journalism. Vern was a beautiful dog and from this report that officer sounds like an incompetent, cruel person.
Pam Hamburg February 09, 2014 at 10:37 PM
I am SICK AND TIRED of cops abusing their powers! This moron did NOT have to shoot the dog, who was only doing what dogs do. Chesapeake Bay retrievers are NOT known to be aggressive (there may be exceptions, but they are few and far between). He was doing his 'job', greeting the strange person and announcing to his people that they had a visitor. Do the cops not carry Tasers? Seems they do and use them on the mentally ill or mentally challenged. This is total b.s. I am armed too. I will only use force if me or mine, including my dog and cat, are threatened. I don't care about my material things. I DO CARE VERY MUCH about my humans, myself and my pets! Worse still, nothing will happen to this trigger happy cop. NOTHING.
Johnny Yuma February 10, 2014 at 09:44 AM
A bunch of fearless keystrokers here. Police officers don't get paid to get bit. It's part of the job to conduct interviews. At times it takes them into/onto other peoples property to do that. This officers perception of fear is what caused this. He perceived that he was in danger and acted. Wrong? No. Sad? Absolutely.
Chuck Burton February 10, 2014 at 10:55 AM
Pam, police trainees are seldom given anything to go on concerning animals, and how to deal with them. Officers, especially those who never had a dog, probably don't understand that a dog, suddenly confronted by a stranger, will be both defensive and fearful, and needs reassurance that it and its territory are not in danger. Under conditions where an officer or the public are in danger, an officer may, sadly, need to put down an interfering dog, but such situations are infrequent. Officers also need to learn to identify animals that are probably suffering from rabies, and how to protect the public and other animals from contact with them.
Justice February 10, 2014 at 08:11 PM
Surely it'll not take the place of Vern but PLEASE consider buying the family another Chesapeake Bay Retriever. AA County could sponsor all expenditures for a year ( veterinarian bills, food).... Vern was a beloved family member. The officer was too quick to fire his gun (because he felt threatened) but once dead you can't bring back. If this was the only alternative he could come up with maybe the officer and his supervisors should give it some more thought before he has the authority/responsibility of putting a gun in his hand again. Justice
Pam Hamburg February 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM
No doubt there are cops on here making the pro comments. There are other options besides shooting a family's pet. Just ask the postal carriers who aren't armed at all. They don't get paid to get bitten either. The cops' abuse of power is way out of hand and IS happening more and more often. Justice, I think that's a great idea, but let the family choose their next pet. It won't replace Vern, but would go a long way in making amends. As to cops' abuse of power, check out the following. It's NOT just animals. These stories are all over the Internet: http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/270438/158/Ethan-Saylor-man-with-down-syndrome-who-died-in-police-custody-may-have-not-needed-movie-ticket-after-all- As always, the cops skated. The M.E. had ruled the death a HOMICIDE, yet they still skated. This is just ONE example. It needs to stop, NOW.
Pam Hamburg February 11, 2014 at 12:09 PM
A family's son is DEAD and they will never have JUSTICE.
Johnny Yuma February 17, 2014 at 09:15 AM
Postal carriers are not armed Pam... If they were, I bet we would read about more postal carriers shooting dogs. 5,879 postal carriers attacked by dogs in 2012.
Pam Hamburg February 18, 2014 at 01:46 PM
Cops have OTHER, non fatal ways of dealing with this issue, as do postal carriers. That is, if they were properly trained, which they should have been. Shooting a dog or anyone else should NOT be their first line of defense. Very sorry, but that doesn't fly.
Pam Hamburg February 18, 2014 at 01:48 PM
What say you about the man with Down syndrome? Did you bother to even read it? He too is DEAD because of negligence and the cops have pulled in ranks. Because of this, I will NEVER do anything in Fredneck again, even tho it's a neighboring county. This family's dog could have BEEN that man. Get it?
Pam Hamburg February 18, 2014 at 01:49 PM
The M.E. ruled this young man's death a HOMICIDE. The Keystone cops walked.


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