Boston-Area Dogs Assist Law Enforcement As Both Canine Police Officers And Crime Victims

Dogs are considered “Man’s Best Friend”. In the Boston area, though, they are particularly close with “man” involved in criminal prosecutions. After almost a quarter century as an attorney, I can finally see the day coming when I may have to cross-examine a pooch. A number of cases this very month underscore the canine war against crime.

Let’s start with a story from the Boston Herald this very Tuesday. Michael P., 52, of Allston (hereinafter, “Defendant 1”) had a bit of an altercation with his neighbor’s German shepherd. Yes, the altercation included Defendant1’s assault of the dog.

You see, Defendant 1 says he was frustrated and angry with the dog because it constantly barked at him from behind a fence. For some reason, Defendant1 apparently thought that throwing hot coffee in the dog’s face might clear up the issue.

The police were called to the scene. While the dog’s owner told prosecutors that his dog suffered no injuries, the officers were still able to smell the coffee on the dog’s fur.

Defendant1 was arrested and arraigned in Brighton Municipal Court on charges of animal cruelty. While he was released, the court Ordered that he stay away from the neighbor and, of course, the dog.

Meanwhile, last week, a New Bedford pooch was the victim of a crime.

Princess, a 2-year-old Chihuahua was allegedly literally thrown away by her owner. Specifically, she was apparently tossed out of a car window. According to New Bedford Police Lt. Jeffrey P. Silva, the owners threw the dog out of the passenger side window in a neighborhood and then fled the scene.

As we have discussed, driving off and leaving the scene after causing personal injury or property damage is a prosecutable crime. I must admit, though, that this is a fairly new fact pattern for such prosecutions.

“The dog was scared but seemingly uninjured,” Silva said. He went on to describe how the couple returned to the scene about a half hour later, when witnesses claim they were overheard to say loving things like, “Look at that stupid dog, it’s still in the same place where we left it.” about their ex-pet.

The witnesses took down the license plate number and notified the police. As a result, Jimmy C., 24, and Jenny T., 31, both of New Bedford (hereinafter, the “Defendant Couple”) were both arrested. They were charged with two counts each of felony cruelty to animals.

According to law enforcement, Princess’ actual owner was driving the car. She allegedly instructed her male friend to throw the dog out the window.

After the incident, Princess was taken by New Bedford Animal Control to Forever Paws on Lynwood Street. While the Defendant Couple face criminal charges, Princess looks like she is going to be ok.

She is in demand, as various local dog lovers are clamoring to adopt her. In fact, there are reports that the original owner has indicated a change of heart and wants her back too.

Somehow, I doubt that said desire is in the cards; after all, there would be too much opportunity to intimidate the witness.

With the canine crowd joining the ranks of crime victims, is it any wonder that they are also heavily involved with various police departments?

For example, on May 21st, Plymouth police were aided by one of the dogs in blue when they charged a Wareham gentleman in a domestic violence incident. Apparently, Maurice C., 22 (hereinafter, “Defendant2”) had kicked in the door of his ex-girlfriend’s house and threatened to destroy the house and kill her unborn baby. The issue in the romantic altercation was that he wanted her to have an abortion and she was refusing to do so.

When the police responded, Defendant2 allegedly ran off. While he was able to initially escape the human long arm of the law, he was not so successful when it came to the canine paw. In short, he was found by a police car and arrested. He now faces charges of malicious destruction of property more than $250, attempting to commit a crime and assault.

Also, on May 21st, Attleboro police were aided by a state police dog in the arrest of 21-year-old Brendan T. (hereinafter, “Defendant3”). Defendant 3 was wanted by Plainville police on larceny charges and had, for awhile, alluded the police when they came to execute the arrest warrant.

With the help of a police dog and a state police helicopter, Defendant 3 was captured in a wooded area. Now, he has added the local charges of disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace to the original theft-related charges.

Meanwhile, in Quincy, drugs and firearms were seized in a raid at the Quincy Point home of a man who police described as a mid-level drug dealer. The story may be a bit familiar, as it was described in the May 19th posting of the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog.

John F., 32, (hereinafter, “Defendant4”) was arrested on various drug and weapons charges when the police raided the house where he lives with his mother and two young daughters. Instrumental in the investigation was a drug-sniffing State Police dog who assisted in the execution of the search warrant.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

The use of police dogs in law enforcement is not new. While there may be more dogs being mistreated in the news lately, the concept is also probably not new.

It is worth noting, however, that abuse of animals is a crime. While the actual crimes may not carry the same names as if the victim was a human being, they are crimes nonetheless. In fact, as you have seen, they can also be felonies.

It may also interest you to know that these prosecutions are not simply because society is against the mistreatment of animals (which it is). Many law enforcement experts believe that serial killers and like animals often have the abuse of animals in their past. This is, for example, just one of the many reasons that juvenile crimes against animals are given extra scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the training of police dogs seems to be more and more advanced. After all, there are certain strengths which dogs have which we humans do not. They have a greater sense of smell. They are fast. They are fearless.

They are also found to be quite loyal. They also seldom engage in cruelty for cruelty sake. After all, when is the last time you heard of a dog throwing a bowl of steaming hot dog food at a human being?

As demonstrated above, dogs are instrumental for their ability to find drugs, explosives and firearms, as well as specific people.

Speaking of firearms, be sure to check out this daily blog this Thursday, when our weekly “Attorney Sam’s Take” lecture is about illegal gun possession in the Commonwealth.

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