In the aftermath of the alleged murder of a dog in People's Park last week, the whole doggone incident continues to arouse the passions of park regulars and Medheads at the nearby Cafe Mediterraneum, and an eye-witness has come forward.
The eye-witness was parked across from the shooting, not more than six yards from the dog slaying. The eye-witness account casts into doubt other accounts by nearby witnesses, who claim the dead dog, Dude, six months old, was leashed to its owner and no threat to the cop who killed him.
Although the eye-witness did not witness the dog shooting, he was on the scene within minutes. According to the witness the dead dog's owner was so drunk, he had no awareness of what had happened. He was saying, "what happened to my dog?" Tom Garrison, 57, said.
The dead dog, Dude, a six-month old Shepard mix, had already been removed.
Within minutes, according to Garrison, university police officer Kenneth Doughty, the shooter of the dog, was joined by three or four UCPD cops, who quickly cordoned off Peoples Park's North-west sector.
According to Garrison, none of the eye witnesses saw whether Dude's owner had leashed him the night of the killing. These ear-witnesses claim that Dude was leashed, but there is no way to verify this, other than the unreliable statements of the owner.
One of the witnesses we are trying to reach has reportedly told a friend she saw bruises on Dude's owner's wrists, after the shooting.
According to Garrison, who "does not always agree with police accounts," the police account of the dog lunging at the officer, is "starting to seem true."
Garrison said he heard a "serious growl" followed by two shots; then there were no more sounds from the dog. This is close to the accounts of those who heard, "bark, bark, bang, bang."
At the Med, Medheads questioned the necessity of killing the dog. One cop-critic wondered why the officer approached after allegedly shining his flashlight into the dog's eyes. "Why didn't the cop back off?," one said, "and call animal control."
Last week's Planet story of the dog's death reported he had been shot in the back, but Garrison says that none of the ear-witnesses from afar saw the dead dog's body, because the crime scene was quickly cordoned off, and the dog's body was removed by a university trash removal vehicle.
According to Captain Margot Bennett, UCPD, university police have a photo of the dead dog's corpse.
Still, bullet entry and exit was aired at the Med, as if an episode of Columbo.
One Medhead argued that police procedures were violated by the killing, but the Medhead could not name the pertinent police protocols. (That's why we call them Medheads).
Bennett, temporary UCPD police spokesperson, referring to Chapter 8 of the UCPD Police Policy Manual (justification for use of force against animals) summarized that UCPD cops are authorized to shoot animals to "euthanize" them when severely injured, or "to stop a dangerous animal which reasonably appears to pose an imminent threat to an officer or others."
There were no witnesses, other than Officer Doughty. Bennett has said the dog lunged at Doughty, "teeth-bared."
We had reported prematurely here—and incorrectly—that Doughty returned to the park the next morning to arrest a witness.
Prompted by Medhead critics, I asked Bennett why Doughy did not conduct his curfew sweep in tandem with another officer, which is often the case with policing in the park. Bennett said that curfew sweeps are routinely carried out by a single officer.
Bennett reports the last dog shot by UCPD was Aug 8, 2008 at University Village, under circumstances "similar to those in the park." last week.
According to Berkeley CA Crime Log, on-line, there have been forty-five dog-bite reports in Berkeley in a six year period. An accompanying map detailing the locations of the reported bites shows a concentration of dog bite reports on Berkeley's Northside, and in the Berkeley hills.
Only four bite-reports occurred on the South side in the past six years, according to the log.
Calls to the East-Bay Humane Society, Paw Fund, and Pet activists were not returned in time for this article.
The last Pet Clinic in People's park, offering an array of pet support to homeless dog owners was last held fourteen months ago, according to press accounts.
A review of on-line sources regarding the responsibilities of animal owners stresses obeying animal rules and regulations. High on the list of animal owners' responsibilities is strict observance of leash laws, except in parks with designated "dog runs."
"We have not had an of-leash dog citation [in the park] in two years," Bennett said last week.
Our own park investigation has found that most park animals are leashed or supervised by owners if they frolic with each other off leash.
The City of Berkeley's shelter service, administered through the city-manager's office, publishes guidelines for dog owners: http://http://ww.ci.berkeley.ca.us/City_Manager/Animal_Shelter/City_Dog_Regulations.
A free pet vaccine clinic will be held Aug. 19, 10-12 a.m. at 2nd and Addison streets.
Our South side reporter informs us that, while he was researching this piece, he had two People's Park dogs lunge at him—but they were restrained by their owners. "The system worked for me," he said.