rabid dog
image: white_fundude/flickr

Cindy and Mark Boling, whose border collie was fatally shot by a Fort Worth police officer earlier this year, have launched a petition calling on the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) to mandate training on animal behavior and the use of non-lethal force in animal-related encounters.

The Bolings started the petition after learning of several other cases of family pets being shot by police officers across the state of Texas. While they successfully worked with their local police department to institute a new eight-hour training course on animal behavior and handling, the number of other cases convinced them of a need for statewide change.

“We believe we would still be able to hold our Lily in our arms if law enforcement agencies had long ago required their officers to be trained for animal encounters,” said Cindy Boling, who launched the campaign on with her husband Mark. “These killings have become an epidemic. We have the methods to prevent them and we certainly have the desire to prevent them. Now we all need to become active to stop tragedies like this from happening again.”

In addition to Fort Worth’s new training program, the Arlington Police Department announced on November 20 that it is instituting mandatory training on appropriate animal-handling reactions following the shooting of a dog named Bucky last year. The Austin Police Department also changed its training policies over the summer after the high-profile shooting of a dog named Cisco by an officer at the wrong address. The Bolings hope these changes will push TCLEOSE to implement statewide training standards.

“It was the right thing to do,” said Jeffrey Halstead, Fort Worth Police Chief. “The nightmare the Bolings have to live through is one I would not want for any of our residents. But I respect that they’re taking this to the state and national level because it needs to be done.”


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