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Our Beloved Sweet Dog, Bella...
Shot and Killed by Cabarrus County Animal Control
We the undersigned are outraged by the actions of the Cabarrus County Animal Control Officer that shot and killed our beloved American Pit Bull Terrier, Bella.
On April 29, 2010, our beloved dog, Bella, escaped from our back yard and was shot and killed by an animal control officer. Despite showing no aggression and surrounded by neighbors and children, the officer used excessive and unnecessary force to capture a frightened animal. For him, it resolved a frustrating situation that had exceeded his time limit; for us, it murdered a member of our family.
Bella and her companion, Jaxson were just two streets over when a neighbor contacted the Cabarrus County Animal Control to retrieve them. While many people in the area were familiar with the friendly nature of our dogs, on this day they were prematurely feared due to misconceptions about their breed. American Pitbull Terriers are often portrayed as intimidating, muscular and vicious , but as our pets, they were loving, docile and kind. We raised them both with our six year old daughter, Jayden, who loved and played with them like siblings.
Two Police Officers attempted to catch the dogs. Jaxson, came and jumped into the back of the police car as soon as they opened the door. Bella was a little more hesitant. Animal control was called. The Animal Control Officer attempted to capture the Bella by chasing her with a catch pole. She simply ran around in circles and in fear. During this time, neighbors and children familiar with the dogs attempted to explain that they knew the owners and that the dogs were harmless. They were ignored.
After several failed attempts to catch Bella, witnesses watched as the officer shot her in the back while she was running away. Witnesses say that Bella screamed and continue to try and run. Her legs flailed from under her and she fell to the ground. Since the officer had not been trained on the proper use of a tranquilizer gun, he fired a 9 mm handgun at a helpless, frightened animal surrounded by neighbors, several of whom were children.He had only been on the scene for 20 minutes.
Witnesses watched as the officers put her into a crate in the back of his truck to return to animal control. At the time, no one knew if she was alive or dead and the animal control officers did not seem to care. As soon as we arrived home and learned what happened, we immediately contacted animal control only to learn that the office was closed. Despite having microchips, with all of our information, implanted on our dogs , we were never contacted by the animal control department about the situation or to retrieve our pets. After calling again the next morning, we were told that we could come and get the Jaxson at noon and could speak with the officer that shot Bella. When we arrived, we asked the officer about Bella's body, we were told that she had already been destroyed, her body cremated along with three other dogs.
The officer that shot Bella showed absolutely no remorse, compassion, respect or humanity. Since we had never known either of the dogs to be aggressive, we asked the officer if she showed any signs of aggression to anyone while they were trying to catch her. When he told us that she had not, we asked why he shot and killed her. He replied, "What do you want me to do? Stay there for three hours? I have other calls to get to. I'm not going to just leave a pit bull running around a neighborhood."
The only report from animal control states that they seized two dogs: Victims: 0, Weapons/Tools: Not Applicable none, Forcible: no.
While the animal control report omits the use of a weapon and the death of our dog, our story is validated with notarized witness statements, children who watched the tragedy take place, and video footage of our conversations with the animal control officer.
Bella was a sweet and loving dog to both familiar faces and strangers alike and we will miss her terribly. We will do everything in our power to ensure Bella's murder will improve animal control procedures and ensure the ethical treatment of animals. While our dog did not have to die in such a cruel and senseless manner, we hope to make a change and prevent this tragedy from happening to anyone else.
We have a big battle ahead of us, to fight for the justice of our dog and for policies to ensure pets are to be captured in a humane manner. Since this tragedy took place, we have taken steps to document the incident and hold the animal control officer accountable for his reckless actions. While collecting witness statements from the neighbors on the street where Bella was killed, Jeff was approached by the individual who initially contacted animal control. As Jeff went back to to the street, a member of the police force herself, threatened to have him arrested if he came down her street again.
Less than 24 hours later, the police arrested Jeff based on a fabricated statement from the officer that he threatened her. His bail was set at an excessive $10,000 and a restraining order issued to prevent him from being on the street to collect witness statements.
This officer has broken the 8th amendment which states, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." It is our belief that authority by the police department has been abused to silence our efforts to expose the truth of what happened that day. We want to hold the individuals of the Cabarrus County Police and Animal Control Departments accountable for their abuse of power in this case and see that they are released from their right to wear a badge and protect our communities.
We hope to increase awareness and enforce the ethical treatment of animals and actions by our police department. We need to ensure that the county sees that needlessly taking the life of a pet is a serious issue and that animal control officers are equipped to handle a tranquilizer gun before being able to handle any call. By winning our case, the officers in this incident will be released from their duty and privilege to serve our communities, setting a precedent to ensure animal control officers follow the law. We are proposing the implementation of policies and procedures to be followed so that pets will not be killed because an officer does not have the time to catch them.
To do this, we need your help to raise money for the legal fees associated with making our case against the county. We do not want to benefit from this tragedy in any way; we just want to hold the right people accountable for the carless murder of our pet and the unwarranted arrest of a grieving owner searching for the truth. If we win our case, any extra proceeds beyond the replacement value of our dog's life will be donated to animal rescue organizations.
Since our story has been released, we have heard several similar stories of police brutality against animals. Because of the costs associated with defending a case against the county, many pet owners in similar situations have remained silent, without the financial means to do anything about it.
We want justice for Bella, to stand up for other animals that have been senselessly killed, and to protect pets from violence. As members of the community that pay the salaries of the police department, we need to stand up for what is right against people who abuse their positions of authority and send a message that they cannot get away with murder. We know we are the little guy, and that the county has bigger pockets than we do, but with your help, we can tell our story and bring justice for Bella. We appreciate your support, and could not do it without you.
Donations are being accepted online via ChipIn at:
Please visit the following links to view video of how gently Bella and Jaxson interacted with strangers and our little girl.
We welcome your comments or questions and hope you will share our story with others.
Jeff Daniels and Jessica Juba of Concord, NC
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