This one happened in Anne Arundel, Maryland. The officer apparently cut across the family’s yard en route to another house to ask about a burglary. In the process, the family’s Chesapeake Bay Retriever did what dogs do: It defended its turf from the unknown intruder. So the cop shot the dog.
The Baltimore Sun story linked above points out that this is merely the latest in a number of high-profile cop-shoots-dog incidents in Maryland. But it isn’t just Maryland. These stories are all over the country, and have given rise to Facebook groups and websites to track how often it happens.
It’s impossible to say if cops killing dogs becoming more or less common, although I can say that the older police officers I’ve interviewed about it seem to think it’s happening much more frequently today. One thing I can say for certain is that very few police departments give their officers training on how to read, interact, and respond to dogs. This, despite the fact that groups like the Humane Society offer the training to any department that wants it. Postal workers, for example, do get that training, and dog attacks on postal workers are rare. I’ve also yet to read of a single incident where a postal worker had to shoot a dog. Of course, postal workers don’t carry guns.
Here’s a trailer for an upcoming documentary about these shootings: