SPOKANE, Wash. – When police officers respond to a call, they have a lot to think about. The public’s safety is at the top of their list. The well-being of pets usually is not.
On Tuesday morning, Spokane Police Officers responded to a reported stabbing on the lower South Hill. As they responded, they did not know whether their stabbing suspects were inside the home or whether they could be armed. Once they secured a search warrant, they forced entry to the apartment.
But when police went in, a small dog went out. Once police collected their evidence, closed up the house and cleared the scene, the dog was still outside. It stayed outside for about three hours before neighbor Stephanie Campbell noticed it and coaxed it into her arms.
“It was cold out and he was shaking and I just felt bad for him,” Campbell said. “If that was my little dog out here, I’d hope someone else would grab him and take care of him.”
Campbell got the dog a blanket and tied him to a ribbon so he wouldn’t get away, and she sat with him on the front porch until the owner returned. Campbell said she understands that police cannot possibly make pets a priority on these types of calls. But she thinks they should at least be aware of any pets that are let outside in these situations.
“They should definitely give it a shot, you know, try to put the animals back in their homes,” Campbell said.
But even Campbell said the dog was skittish toward her, at first, even though it had met her. So she said officers may not be able to approach some animals for their own safety.
“They gotta keep themselves safe first,” she said. “I don’t want any officers getting hurt just ‘cause I say try to catch the animals.”
Spokane police agree. Officer Teresa Fuller said there is no telling how these animals might react, especially since many of them have just been through a traumatic situation. She said officers will return pets to their homes when possible, other times they may call in SCRAPS to help. However, sometimes it’s just not feasible for police to worry about the well-being of house pets.
The Spokane Police Department has no written code on what the proper protocol is for police handling pets following searches of homes. But Fuller said Campbell did a good deed in this case, especially since she was familiar with the dog.