Puppy Slaughter: A Police Prerogative

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For the last two decades, property owners in the Western U.S. have often implemented the “three-S” policy when they’ve discovered a federally protected critter on their land: Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up. Reporting the find to the “authorities” could have disastrous consequences. Tasheka Beatty should have adopted that approach on January 11 in dealing with an aggressive dog that attacked her two-year-old daughter and threatened her husband. Instead, the Durham, North Carolina resident has been charged with felonious animal cruelty and “discharging a firearm in public.”

“The dog was laying down asleep,” Beatty told a local television station. “My little girl got out of bed and went to the dog and that’s when he grabbed her. That’s what woke me up.” When the dog went after her husband, Beatty grabbed a shotgun. Then, rather than grabbing a shovel, Beatty tried to contact the local animal control department, which didn’t respond to several phone calls. She then took her little girl — who will require reconstructive surgery — to the hospital.

The next morning, frustrated by the predictable ineptitude of the animal control department, Beatty made the critical mistake of calling the police, who very helpfully slapped handcuffs on her wrists and kidnapped her at gunpoint, because that’s just how they roll.

“I do love animals, but I ask somebody, `what would you do, if that was your child?'” Beatty reasonably asks. Indeed, on the same day Beatty was hit with spurious criminal charges for the “crime” of defending her toddler, five-year-old Makayka Woodard was mauled to death by dogs  in Waxhaw, a North Carolina town about 170 miles from Durham. Mikayla’s grandmother, 67-year-old Nancy Presson, was injured in a brave but unsuccessful attempt to save the little girl.

Hundreds of severely traumatized people attended Makayla’s funeral on January 17. It’s entirely possible that Beatty would have buried her own child had she not acted as she did.

“Somebody could have stopped this,” lamented one of Makayla’s neighbors. “Now … a five-year-old child is dead, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Beatty did something to prevent another tragedy of this kind. As a result, the local criminal clique that calls itself a “government” is trying to put Beatty in a cage as “punishment” for the supposed crime of defending her child. The police maintain that the charge is justified because Beatty shot the dog at least once while it was chained and no longer a threat. But it is standard operating procedure for members of the State’s punitive priesthood to use dogs as “target practice” when they pose no threat to anyone.

You see, only those garbed in government-issued costumes have the “authority” to kill dogs on a whim. Because Tasheka Beatty wasn’t wearing the paramilitary garb of a government enforcement agent, she’s now being treated as a felon for exercising her innate authority as a parent to protect her child from potentially lethal harm.

UPDATE

A liberty activist and animal welfare veteran underscores a very important point I had neglected:

“If the dog was vaccinated for rabies, then I agree with you that — after putting it out of its misery — [the mother] should indeed have just buried it and kept her mouth shut. However, if the dog had never been vaccinated, she would have had a very realistic motivation to call animal control or the police because either the dog would have to be kept alive for 10 days for observation, or its intact brain would have to be kept, or the little girl would have to undergo a painful series of rabies-preventative shots on top of everything else.”

While my correspondent agrees that Tasheka Beatty appeared to be justified in shooting the dog, “dragging it out and leaving it in pain was indeed animal cruelty, no two ways about it.” Her impression is that Beatty wasn’t arrested merely for shooting the dog, but “for the way she treated it afterward.”

On the basis of what has been reported, it appears to me that Beatty did the best she could under the circumstances. She tried to contact animal control, and then attended to her child’s wounds, an errand that doubtless consumed much of her time and all of her attention. It’s difficult to see how Beatty acted out of deliberate cruelty; if she had done so, she would probably have made some effort to conceal her actions, rather than calling animal control — which never responded — and the police. Hopefully more details will become available, but it seems clear that Beatty acted without criminal intent.

Given that the police piled on with a completely gratuitous count of “discharging a firearm in public,” it’s likely that Beatty would have been dragged off to jail even if she had cleanly killed the animal, or if animal control had arrived in a timely fashion. The government’s armed revenue farmers rarely miss a wealth-extraction opportunity.

2:13 pm on January 23, 2011