When Police Must Shoot Animals

In many police departments, particularly the smaller and more peaceful ones, most of the rounds fired in the line of duty involve “humane destruction” of injured or dangerous animals. The rabid skunk reported by a homeowner, the deer lying plaintively in the road with its spine shattered after it ran in front of an automobile, or the snarling dog charging a cop who is serving a warrant.

In the Ayoob Files column in this issue, it discusses the Zanesville, Ohio incident in which the local sheriff’s department had to euthanize 49 exotic animals that had been released upon their community by an angry man just before he blew his own brains out. Some of those officers were hunters — one responded to the scene with his personal Remington 700 in 7mm Magnum — and did good work with it.

However, the cops found no sport in it. I spoke to the Sheriff who ran the sadly necessary containment operation, Matt Lutz, and several of the deputies, and to a man they found it grimly depressing. Not to mention dangerous. There were 35 lions and tigers that had to be accounted for. A male Bengal tiger can reach 580 pounds, and a male African lion averages 400. When I was in lion country in Africa, the professional hunters I was with favored the .458 Magnum with 510-grain softnose bullets. The lawmen that dealt with the Zanesville situation primarily had 55-grain .223 ammo. These cops definitely got their daily adrenaline requirement — but they didn’t get any sport out of it at all.

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2 thoughts on “When Police Must Shoot Animals

  1. Mark

    I have had to put down many animals as a lawman. The most unique one was a coyote with a broken hip. It was in a permanent sitting position, on a cement bridge over an expressway. I worked a looped dog leash over its head and had to drag the poor thing off the bridge where I could put it out of its misery.

  2. Jim

    I’m not an LEO, but have put down numerous animals. Best round for dispatching skunks is std velocity .22 Shoot them from a position to hit the lungs. They don’t spray. If you shoot them in the head or use a round that is more powerful, they spray every time. Learned that from an old trapper who made quite a good living trapping nuisance animals. His favorite gun was .22 wheelgun loaded with .22 shorts.

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