Merced police allowed to shoot critically injured animals at firing range

September 13, 2013

California penal code allows Merced, California police to kill critically injured pets at the police shooting range, CBS13 reported September 13. The Merced Bee has reported that Merced Police take injured animals to the firing range, where they are then shot to death.

 The penal code allowing California police officers to make a life or death decision of an injured animal has been on the books for decades. It reads

“…any officer… may, with the approval of his or her immediate superior, humanely destroy any abandoned animal in the field in any case where the animal is too severely injured to move or where a veterinarian is not available and it would be more humane to dispose of the animal.”

Many animal lovers are outraged at the law that allows a police officer to shoot injured dogs or cats when it would be more humane than allowing the animal to suffer, or when a veterinarian isn’t available.

Sgt. Jason Ramos with the Sacramento County Police Department explained the law is necessary in order to put an animal out of its misery when death is inevitable.

Most police departments are prohibited due to local ordinances from shooting injured animals. While it’s not allowed in Sacramento, Ramos understands why the law exists. Sometimes an animal is critically injured, and it’s the middle of the night with no vet clinics open and animal control isn’t available.

The Mercer police department says this is a rare occurrence, and usually involves an animal that’s been hit by a vehicle and has no identification. Merced Police Chief Norm Andrade confirmed this is how injured animals are dealt with, despite most of the officers opposing orders to do this.

Dr. Jyl Rubin, whose Mobile Vet Connection serves pets in the Sacramento area, believes law enforcement agencies should work with rescue groups to prevent shooting range killings. If rescue groups were available to come out and help injured cats and dogs, then shooting them wouldn’t be an option.

Vets recommend anyone who comes across a seriously injured animal to contact law enforcement, who will then try to contact animal control and allow them to handle the situation.

Unfortunately, for animals in Merced, a police officer makes the decision of whether treatment should be sought, or if it would be kinder to put the animal out of its misery.

Is any attempt being made to contact the legal owner of the injured pet? Or do the police simply scoop the injured animal up and take it to it’s execution?

Is it for the greater good of the injured dog or cat for a police officer to decide whether the animal should live or die? What about officers out there who just like to target practice with live targets? It would appear the penal code gives them a license to kill without being held accountable.

Perhaps new laws should be passed that would require a veterinarian to make the final decision, and to carry out the animals death in a humane manner, instead of a bullet to the head. Merced officers who are forced to follow policy would most likely welcome this practice being banned.

Your comments are welcome.



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