A viral video that shows a Salisbury, North Carolina, police officer slamming his K-9 police dog into a squad car is causing controversy.
In the video, the North Carolina officer walks over to the dog, named Zuul, who is sitting on the ground. He puts a collar on the dog, who briefly struggles. The officer holds the dog with the collar over his back.
“We’re good; no witnesses,” the officer says, apparently unaware that the incident is being filmed. At another point, he tells the dog to “stay” and asks, “is your camera on?” Another officer says no.
The officer twirls the dog around by the collar and then throws the dog in the car and appears to hit the animal. Chief Jerry Stokes said in a news conference that the police were aware of the video depicting the officer “during a K-9 training.” He said it was an ongoing personnel matter. “The K-9 was not harmed and is healthy and being well cared for.” Zuul was present at the news conference with Stokes.
PETA has staged a protest demanding prosecution of the officer, who has not been named.
You can watch the original video below, but be aware that it’s disturbing.
Here’s what you need to know:
Salisbury Police Say the K-9, Named Zuul, ‘Was Removed From the Handler’s Care’
Salisbury police wrote in a statement posted to their website that the K-9, Zuul, was removed from its handler’s care and checked out by a veterinarian.
“We appreciate your concern for K-9 Officer Zuul. He was removed from the handler’s care when we were made aware of this incident. Zuul was taken to a veterinarian this week for another checkup and received a clean bill of health. He is in good hands, happy and healthy, and taking some time off,” the statement says.
“The officer involved has been administratively separated from K-9 Officer Zuul and K-9 operations. We cannot comment further regarding the officer because it is an ongoing personnel matter. When we are able to release information to the public we will, within legal limits.”
The statement continues, “A thorough investigation of this specific incident and of the entire Salisbury Police Department’s K-9 operations is still ongoing by an outside agency and internal affairs. Once complete, we will take appropriate action to ensure that the department’s canine program follows the industry’s best K-9 practices.”
The Salisbury Police Department in the UK had to explain on its Facebook page that it wasn’t the department in question, writing, “We are aware of a video clip of a Police dog being mistreated by a Police Officer. We would like to be clear that although we cannot verify the authenticity of the video, it is clear that it does not relate to Salisbury Police in the UK. We do not refer to our Police Dogs as K-9, we wear very different uniforms and we drive different Police cars. There appears to be 24 locations called Salisbury in 8 different countries across the World. We just happen to think we are the best Salisbury Police.”
Police Say No Taser Was Used on the Dog & an Outside Agency Is Investigating
In another statement, the Salisbury Police Department explained that it “is aware of the video that has been provided to the media depicting a Salisbury officer during canine training but cannot comment in detail because it is an ongoing personnel matter. In accordance with policy, SPD’s review of and response to this matter is and will continue to be thorough and fair so as to provide due process to everyone involved. SPD can confirm that, as a matter of course, the officer has been administratively separated from the canine while SPD conducts its review. The canine was not harmed and is healthy and being well-cared-for.”
The statement added, “To ensure integrity of the investigation of this matter an outside agency has been charged with leading the inquiry. This agency is interviewing and reviewing the matter with identified experts in handling canines, including former handlers with other police departments, an owner of a police canine training firm, and internal K9 supervisory staff. While the matter is not complete, it has been determined no Taser was used on the dog at any point by anyone. Any allegation that this occurred is false.”
The police statement added:
It is important to understand that a police canine is trained to use force against criminal suspects and a handler must ensure they have complete control over the dog at all times so that any use of the canine in the field is appropriate and lawful. When a canine is noncompliant with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog. Canine training tactics and corrective measures can sometimes be alarming out of context. SPD cannot and will not comment about whether the training tactics used in the video were appropriate, because that is still being reviewed. As part of this review we are ensuring our policy, procedures, and training we provide our handlers is appropriate. Again, SPD’s top priority is the health, safety, and well-being of its human and canine officers. The canine involved in this matter is safe, has suffered no effects from this incident, and the officer in this matter will be treated fairly in accordance with SPD policy.