One St. Clair County resident recently experienced a devastating loss as an on-duty deputy fatally shot her dog Rocko. On Sept. 12, Deputy Daniel Jehl responded to a 911 call in Maggie Meldrum’s Michigan neighborhood. It was there that he gunned down one of her two dogs. While the sheriff’s office believes that Jehl did not violate any department policies, he has been reassigned.
Sheriff’s office defends St. Clair County deputy
On the day of the incident, Rocko — an Australian Cattle Dog — and a Pit Bull named Charlotte ran out of their yard in Algonac, Michigan, after being sprayed by a skunk. A neighbor called the incident in and Deputy Jehl responded.
As per The Voice News, the St. Clair County deputy called Animal Control which was busy with other calls. The deputy attempted to lure the dogs into his car. Sheriff Mat King called his approach “commonplace.”
King further said that Jehl made contact with the dogs, and at one point, Rocko growled and lunged at him. Jehl drew his weapon, and when the dog lunged at the deputy again, he fired two shots into the pup.
Almost a month after the incident, the sheriff’s office addressed the situation during a City Council meeting. Sheriff Mat King stated that the St. Clair County deputy defended himself.
As per Fox 2 Detroit, King added that the deputy felt he didn’t have a choice. Furthermore, the Sheriff couldn’t believe that Jehl was being charged. The deputy was upset after the incident and didn’t show up to work the next day.
After the incident, Daniel Jehl started receiving death threats. The deputy, who is also a pet parent, received threats against his own dog. King called this out during the meeting. He noted that he doesn’t understand the “mindset” that results in people threatening other people.
While Sheriff King believes that Daniel Jehl was only trying to protect himself, the loss that Maggie Meldrum experienced cannot be overlooked.
More than 20 dogs are killed every day by cops
Rocko’s death isn’t an isolated incident. This was not the first time that a dog had been killed by one of the boys in blue.
Like Ben Parker said in the original Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” However, cops have often thrown caution to the wind, especially when it comes to canines. The same dogs they train to help them sniff out crimes are often killed by their own hands.
As per Criminal Legal News, the Department of Justice estimates that approximately 25-30 canines are reportedly killed by cops every day. And, according to that organization’s review of the “Officer Down Memorial” website, no police deaths have been reported due to canine attacks in over 70 years.
Ghastly dog killings by cops in recent months
The same cannot be said for pooches. In July 2023, Dixie, a Labrador Retriever, was repeatedly shot by a police officer in Lorain, Ohio. Two months later, a senior dog from Dexter, Missouri, was shot by the cops.
In that case, Parker ran away from home after being scared of a thunderstorm. His owner contacted the Stoddard County Sheriff’s Office hoping that they would help. Earlier that evening, a woman saw the dog and posted pictures on Facebook before she contacted officers to pick up the pooch. Those officers took the dog to a nearby park, where they shot him and left him in a ditch. It was only half an hour later when the dog parent arrived to retrieve his pet. Upon the horrifying realization he would instead be taking a corpse home to his children, he asked the officers for an explanation. Their response was, “We don’t have any way of taking care of a dog.”
Earlier this month, police responded to a call in the Woodlawn Avenue neighborhood in Des Moines, Iowa. A homeowner reported a dog on the loose who was circling their house. As the pooch eventually settled down, April Sondergroth’s own dog was in heat and needed to step out to relieve herself. The woman called the cops once again, hoping they would move the stray away from the area. She never imagined that they would shoot the pup point-blank.
What to do if a cop shoots your pet
As unfortunate as it is, cops killing dogs is quite common. While a few factors may contribute to police intentionally or unintentionally shooting one’s pet, as per the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the pet parents can take the following steps.
- Get in touch with a lawyer.
- Call 9-1-1: Do not move or tamper with the evidence. Share all the information with them.
- Collect evidence: As hard as it may be, take pictures of the canine before moving the body. This includes taking photos or videos that show the injuries they sustained in detail.
- Gather witnesses and obtain statements, if possible.
- Afterward, take the dog to the vet, where everything related to the cause of death should be documented in an official record. Consider having the veterinarian perform a necropsy.
- Check the laws governing officer behavior and treatment of dogs in your state or jurisdiction.
- Determine liability. An officer may have violated your constitutional rights or committed animal abuse. A lawyer can help you determine this.