Losing a beloved family pet is a heartbreaking experience – but the loss is all the more traumatic when your companion is mercilessly shot dead, despite posing no threat of harm.
We recently wrote a blog about 11-month-old puppie ‘Hulk’, who was fatally shot by a Lake Macquarie police officer in October.
Footage has now emerged of six-year-old Staffie ‘Biggie’ being shot dead by a police officer last month.
Biggie’s owners, Perth couple Pat and Alanna Wharrams, are heartbroken but determined to fight for justice.
They have launched an online campaign to raise awareness about the incident and ensure that the officer responsible is held to account. They hope to spare other dog owners from the despair of having their companions unnecessarily shot dead.
A Merciless Act of Cruelty
Biggie and his mum Holly managed to escape from the Wharram’s backyard in the Perth suburb of Banksia Grove.
As soon as the couple discovered their dogs missing, they issued a desperate plea for help on a Facebook page for lost and found animals, and contacted animal control.
Police say they were contacted by a member of the public who claimed the pair was acting aggressively in a nearby park. Police caught Holly, but Biggie was roaming the nearby suburb of Kinross.
Biggie was then met by a police officer who drew his weapon and shot the dog – in the middle of a suburban street.
A statement released by police claimed that:
‘Police attended the area…the dogs acted aggressively towards officers and also attempted to attack another dog. Fearing that the officers were about to be attacked, an officer discharged his firearm at the dog causing its death.’
But unbeknownst to police, the incident was captured on CCTV footage, which tells a very different story.
The confronting footage, which can be viewed here, shows Biggie approaching the officer wagging his tail. He then moves to go around the officer. At no point does Biggie appear to act aggressively. The officer then blocks Biggie’s path, and Biggie sits down submissively. Despite all of this, the officer shoots Biggie dead.
In addition to the footage, independent eyewitness Blake Micallef watched the entire incident and reported that Biggie ‘didn’t look aggressive’ and in fact looked ‘friendly.’ He says the incident made him feel physically sick, and he has since had trouble sleeping.
The Real Danger
Outraged and upset, Biggie’s supporters have issued a statement highlighting the dangers of shooting innocent pets in suburban streets.
A publication on Change.org, which encourages supporters to sign a petition to have the officer in question sacked, states:
‘Shooting a weapon is a danger to any community and should be done so when all other measures have been taken. Police Australia wide need to follow appropriate procedure and allow animal control to do their job they are trained for under such circumstances.’
Nearly 9,500 people have signed the petition thus far.
Police are generally trained to use firearms to stop a potentially lethal threat to themselves or members of the public – so in the face of footage which clearly shows that Biggie did not pose a threat, the officer’s actions appear to be excessive, unwarranted and unlawful.
Many of our other blogs have highlighted the need for police to have better weapons training and be more accountable for their actions, and this latest incident certainly shows that some police act outside the scope of their powers in non-threatening situations.
Sadly, until police are made more accountable for their actions, it is likely that more innocent pets like Biggie will be subjected to unwarranted shootings.
In the wake of Biggie’s tragic death, police have promised to review the incident and keep Mr Wharram appraised of the outcome.
Despite this, Mr Wharram says he plans to take legal action against the police for killing his best friend. He is not only disgusted by the sickening footage, but by the fact that police initially claimed that Biggie had attacked the officer before being shot – which is completely inconsistent with the footage and eye witness statement. Indeed, such blatant and cruel fabrications raise questions about the credibility of statements made by police about events that aren’t captured by CCTV footage.
A Facebook group has been established in memory of Biggie, with administrators organising a series of walks for justice.