For the second time in two days I have had the opportunity to write about Dollar General store as the scene of a violent crime. Unlike yesterday's post where a pastor with a conceal-carry pistol saved the life of the Dollar General store staff and the criminal involved, this second incident involved an officer who was tasked with protecting the public, but instead acted as perpetrator of the crime.
This incident which occurred in Mountain City, TN in late September involved former officer Jody Putnam who felt justified in using deadly force in a crowded store when confronted inside with a vicious…and frightening…squirrel.
Property owner Carl Duffield had tried unsuccessfully to remove the frightened creature from the store and reached out to animal control, but that officer was out - so Putnam, who had no animal control experience or common sense, was dispatched instead.
Rather than find a humane trap, Putnam began immediately firing shots from his gun at the squirrel in the back of the crowded store. When that failed to kill something, he wildly hosed the area with pepper spray.
Shooting back there, of course that should not have been, that should not have happened. Then [he] began to spray it with mace and pepper spray.But the spray got on more than just the little squirrel:
There was a lot of people that come out and just like me they came out and they were coughing and a hacking it was comical...but I'm sure they didn't feel that way, the customers that came out.
Traumatized customers who re-entered the store were most likely further horrified to find the dead squirrel under Putnam's shoe.
One can only imagine the condition of the squirrel and its ultimate demise from being pepper sprayed to death. Some witnesses say they heard several of the shots fired in the store; others report they never heard them due to the scream of the squirrel.
This officer was fired October 2nd for failing to write a discharge weapon report and refusing to report an explanation of his actions. His firing by the town's Board of Mayor and Alderman appears to surround simple policy, not the dangerous behavior in handling the situation. Strange that this incident results in firing, whereas officers who torment, run over or kill innocent people and pets are lauded for using justifiable force and at most receive paid administrative leave for the consequences. As long as they have that written report...? Dollar General refuses to release the surveillance video.
Cops and animals don't mix well. Not only do hundreds (at least) of pet dogs wind up unnecessarily dead at the hands of police each year; but attempts to rescue an animal are prevented so an officer can kill the animal in front of bystanders. Police in California have even taken to capturing injured (what's the definition of injured?) strays, holding them and placing them on stands for target practice. Yes - that psychopathic behavior is really taking place.
And do squirrels and police have some kind of heated history we don't know about? Because there seems to be some animosity from police towards these furry little critters.
Back in April 2011, a police officer just outside a Texas college campus hosed a baby squirrel with pepper spray despite the cries of the surrounding students. It was said to be "to protect the welfare of the students." One wonders about their welfare after clearly freaking out while witnessing his casual actions.
No one who calls the cops for help really expects the trauma and damage that often takes place. For all the animal lovers out there, it might be a good idea to keep in touch with your local shelters, rescue units, and animal hospitals. They cannot always be there right away, because they aren't heavily funded and use volunteer help. You might emphasize the importance of their taking calls so that animals don't end up killed this way - shot at and maced to death. You might even volunteer your own services to help if an animal is scared or injured. It stands to reason that if an animal is loose inside an establishment, to remain calm and by golly, don't call police! Doors can remain open, customers can be alerted and some gentle help can get the animal out - or just leave it the heck alone. If all else fails and an animal outreach isn't available, then call the Fire Department directly (not through 911); they are often made up of volunteers who are equipped to rescue animals.
Law enforcement is simply that - law (code, mandate) en-FORCE-ment. Call the cops for minor issues and you might be the one who gets hosed and left feeling like an animal killer.
Read other articles by Amanda Warren