Pacific Beach resident Ian Anderson has filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego and the police department over the March 15, 2015, police shooting that killed Anderson's six-year-old pit bull, Burberry.
On that day, officers went to Anderson's residence on Garnet Avenue at 5:20 a.m. to respond to a domestic assault case in the area. Anderson answered the door and Burberry, a trained service dog who worked with children with Down syndrome, approached the two officers. According to the complaint, as well as media reports of the incident, one officer bent over to pet Burberry. The dog then approached the other officer. The officer began yelling, scaring Burberry. He barked and the officer shot Burberry in the head, killing him.
The incident was captured in a surveillance video.
News of the shooting spread and the incident was covered locally, across the nation, and in the United Kingdom. The Facebook page “Justice for Burberry” was created.
A letter and petition were later posted on Change.org, demanding that cities and police departments across the nation implement additional training for officers in dealing with pets.
"Why are FedEx and UPS employees required to undergo animal training courses, but law enforcement is not?" reads the petition.
"Both FedEx and UPS drivers face many more encounters with barking, charging, scared, and yes — even aggressive dogs — than law enforcement is and are able to successfully deliver mail unharmed and without the use of lethal weapons. As stated above, many Americans have pets in their families. Yet why is it that so few police officers know how to react when they encounter an animal, resorting to the use of deadly force? It needs to stop."
At time of publication, nearly 45,000 people have signed the petition.
Police shootings of dogs and calls for additional training were recently covered in a report this past May from San Diego County's Grand Jury.
The grand jury found that from 2010 to 2014, police officers countywide shot and killed 56 dogs. Members concluded that improved training as well as community outreach could possibly reduce the number of pet shootings.
In the meantime, the San Diego Police Department and other law enforcement agencies will defend lawsuits from owners whose dogs were shot and killed in officer-related shootings.
According to the lawsuit, Anderson "suffered emotional distress, violation of his constitutional rights, and the loss of his sense of security, dignity, and pride as a resident of the United States of America."