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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Elysian Valley family grieves and seeks answers following the death of a dog named Thunder

Thunder at play/Photo courtesy Alex

It was a week ago on Thursday night when an Elysian Valley man named Alex was returning home with his two dogs – Thunder, a large and rambunctious black Labrador, and Sam, a miniature Golden Retriever –after finishing a late evening walk along the Los Angeles River path.  At the same time another dog owner walked his large pit bull across  the  intersection of Blake Avenue and Dallas Street.  That’s when Thunder and Sam, both of whom were unleashed, ran off and around the corner in the direction of the man and his pit bull. Alex could not see what happened next but he certainly heard it.

“I just heard to two or three barks and then a gunshot.”

The man who fired the gun turned out to be an off-duty LAPD officer.  Police later said the off-duty officer had fired his gun after being confronted by a vicious dog, which turned out to be Thunder. Police said the bullet had missed the dog. But on Friday morning, Thunder, who had appeared dazed  but unharmed immediately after the shooting, was dead in the Alex’s yard. Later, Alex found signs of a bullet wound on the back of the dog behind its shoulder blades

A week after the incident, Alex and his family are grieving over the loss of Thunder and challenging the off-duty officer’s account of the shooting. They claim the pit bull owner, who did not identify himself as an off-duty officer at the time of the shooting, was too hasty in pulling out his gun and firing.  “Thunder is a large,  black Lab who likes to run up to dogs and bark,” said Alex. “He might have appeared vicious but there was not enough time to really determine if this was a vicious dog or not. He just shot him.”

Alex, a 36-year old father who works in the vending machine business, conceded that the approximately 18-month old, 90-pound dog could be intimidating.  He would run up to other dogs and sniff them and bark. But he would not fight or bite. “He was big, giant puppy,” said Alex. “He was not vicious.”

Justice 4 Thunder Facebook page

After moving his family into their new Elysian Valley home a few months ago, Alex, who did not want his last name published, decided he wanted a dog for himself and kids. It would serve as security, too.  That’s how Alex ended up adopting Thunder three months ago from a family in Lancaster that did not have enough time for the dog. “We always wanted a dog,” said Alex. “Everyone fell in love with him. He was beautiful.” Even Alex’s mother would bring over chicken as a treat for Thunder.

Soon after adopting Thunder, Alex and family ended up with another dog, Sam. The two dogs were buddies, but Alex found it hard to handle both dogs on leashes during walks. So, he started walking them in the late evening unleashed along the river.

Last Thursday, Sept. 27, Alex took Thunder and Sam, as was their routine, for for a late evening walk along the river.  It would be Thunder’s last visit to the river.  After Alex and the dogs left the river path and walked up Dallas Street, the unleashed dogs caught sight of the off-duty officer and pit bull in the distance and ran off. After the sound of a gunshot, Thunder and Sam ran back to Alex.  Thunder seemed dazed but Alex said he did not feel or see any blood or wound on the dog’s body.

Alex then went around the corner and approached the pit bull’s  owner. The man, who did not say anything about being an off-duty officer or firing a gun, said “bad dog,” referring to his animal. He soon walked off and then broke into a run down the street, Alex said.

After discovering that Thunder had died during the night, Alex loaded the dog’s body into the trunk of his vehicle and drove to the city-run North Central Animal Shelter in Lincoln Heights on Friday. There,  in front of an animal control officer, Alex said he turned over his dog’s body and saw what looked like a bullet wound. He was asked if he wanted a necropsy conducted. But, at $1,000, Alex said he could not afford it.  He was told to come back if he found out who shot Thunder in order to begin an animal cruelty investigation.  He left Thunder’s body at the shelter.

In the meantime, Alex’s mother saw the story in The Eastsider about an off-duty officer shooting at a “vicious dog” in Elysian Valley.  On Saturday,  Alex met with Northeast Division police about the incident and returned to the North Central Animal Shelter. But Thunder’s body had already been removed.  Brenda Barnette, General Manager of the city’s Animal Services Department, said officers at the shelter  “didn’t see anything unusual with the dog, so it was placed in the freezer and was picked up by sanitation the following day.”  The dog was “never examined and we have no way of verifying the cause of death.”

Alex, however, has provided photos he took that show a wound on the body of a large black dog. He has met with LAPD investigators who are looking into the incident as is procedure in an officer-involved shooting. He also informed investigators that a man sitting in a truck on Blake Street would have likely seen what happened the night Thunder was shot.

Lt. Stacey Spell with the Northeast Divsion said no further information was available as the use-of-force investigation is underway.

Since last week, Alex’s mother has set up a Facebook page about the shooting and has written a letter to Police Chief Charlie Beck urging the department to train officers to distinguish between a vicious and frightened dog and to use only non-lethal force against the animals.

Alex said that he does not want the officer to lose his job over the shooting.

“I just want the truth to be told,” said Alex during an interview at his home. “I want that officer just to know that he killed somebody’s family member and to be more careful.”



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94 comments

  1. Sniff Poor Thundef!

  2. The death of Thunder is indeed tragic and so preventable. Alex says his dog is large and runs up to other dogs barking. In dog world that IS aggression and any dog, leashed or unleashed, can attack when provoked. His dog engaged another dog aggressively and the owner of the leashed dog reacted.

    The breeds of the dogs are irrelevant. If Alex knew his dog had a a history of being unreliable with voice commands it was his responsibility to leash the dog and he bears the blame for putting his dog in a situation where it could get hurt or killed. It is tragic.

    • Excuse me, but that SAME behavior is what a dog does during PLAY.

      Play is not aggressive. Jerks with guns who don’t bother to figure out the dog’s intentions before they shoot and kill a family pet are.

      The ‘officer’ didn’t even tell the truth about hitting Thunder with a bullet. He obviously has a problem telling the truth.

      I’ve physically stopped fights between my dog (and Aussie) and other dogs, including a neighbor’s pit bull, WITHOUT a gun. I’m a 5’5″ middle aged woman. Surely a big strong officer who probably outweighs me by 60 or more pounds could have done the same?

  3. “That’s when Thunder and Sam, both of whom were unleashed, ran off and around the corner in the direction of the man and his pit bull.”

    This is why there are leash laws. RIP Thunder.

    • I walk my dog off leash often. Fortunately she’s smaller and not at all scary looking. I realize there are risks involved doing this, but the idea of her getting shot for running up to another dog simply would not have occurred to me.

      • I own a dog-aggressive dog (not a pitbull) who gets VERY annoyed when little dogs run up to him and get in his face! Obviously, shooting another dog for approaching my own would be insane and completely out of line, but I wouldn’t feel that bad if my leashed dog went after/bit an unleashed dog. That’s on the owner.

  4. Off duty cops shouldn’t be allowed to use guns when ever they feel like and if they do have the right maybe I’ll walk around with a steel pipe in my back pocket in anticipation of the next idiot to confront me in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. I bet I wouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt for using a weapon so why should a cop not in uniform.

    • 1. You can walk around with a pipe in your back pocket
      2. Attacking a human and shooting an aggressive dog are very different actions, morally and legally.

    • He didn’t use his gun “any old time he felt like it.” He used it when two dogs came running at him and his dog, late at night and in the dark, as would be an attack. Gee, even by the owner’s story, there was no owner even in sight to this officer, just two dogs on their own, charging — that is, there was nothing to suggest to this officer (or any person) anything but danger. All he did was defend himself, and being an officer he happened to have a gun, so actually was able to defend himself — someone else would have simply been mince meat for attacking dogs.

      I note, a detail we were not told previously: the dog was NOT killed at the scene, the officer did not continue shooting until the dog was dead. It seems he shot only as needed to stop the attack. Even the dog’s owner did not know then that the dog had even been hit. This is not the action of someone out to slaughter a dog, but the action of someone out to defend, to stop the attack.

      It is irresponsible for the dogs to have been taken out without being on a leash. A leash is just a matter of being responsible. But because some people are irresponsible, we have actually made it law that the dogs must be on a leash — so even if you disagree that it is a matter of responsibility, you still must have them on a leash. Had they been in this case, this never would have happened, and Thunder would be alive and happy today.

      Hearing this owner’s story, I can’t blame the officer. I’m sorry, but I blame the owner for not having the dogs on a leash. Let this be a lesson to everyone — so it doesn’t happen again. Keep your dogs on a leash!

    • You can only walk around with a steel pipe in your back pocket if you’re an off-duty plumber.

  5. That’s awful. Thunder did not have to die. Tragic that he had an irresponsible owner. There is a leash law for a reason! RIP Thunder.

  6. What does justice for this dog consist of? It seems to me that the story is out. If the owner is looking for someone to blame, I suggest he look in the mirror. If the lab had been on a leash, this would have never been a problem. An LAPD officer protecting himself and his dog is not at fault here.

  7. As a dog owner, and someone who is super passionate about animals I am very torn on this story. I am so sorry to hear this happen, but at the same time I really follow the rules of where a dog can be off leash or not.

    One of my dogs is leash aggressive from getting attacked by a dog who was running around the neighborhood and lived 3 blocks away. I’ve worked with my dog a lot to reduce this aggression and anxiety, but if a dog still runs up on us, it’s a hard situation for one person to handle even if my dog is on leash. While most of my encounters with off leash dogs in my neighborhood are false alarms or close calls, and while most of my ability to read a dogs barking/approach as aggressive or not is pretty good, it still can be quite frightening and tense in that moment.

    I am not taking his side because well. . . it’s not like I’m walking around with a gun, but I save all my off leash time with my dogs in off-leash areas (Runyon, dog beaches). Maybe he has been bit or had his dog attacked. I am telling you when my dog was attacked, we saw the dog from far away, kept walking in the opposite direction, and the dog came in so stealth and latched onto my dog who was 30 lbs and moping the floor with her. We didn’t see it coming at all. I know for me, it took me and my dog a good 2 years to completely let go of that anxiety. When something bad happens, it’s hard to shake it.

    It’s really unfortunate and I understand the dog owner’s pain of losing their beloved animal. It’s all around incredibly tragic story.

  8. I have a dog that was viciously attacked by an unleashed dog, who crossed 4 lanes of traffic to get to us. It all happened so fast- it took us by surprise and if no one helped us my dog would have died. If a dog ran up to us again I wouldn’t think twice about defending my dog or myself- it’s why there are leash laws. Sad for the Alex that his owner was so irresponsible. Think about it- two big dogs running up to you barking=scary.

  9. Even if the dogs shouldn’t have been off-leash, it sounds like the cop over-reacted. I realize that in the moment, it is hard to make certain judgements. But a dog running up to your dog — to immediately assume that is a threat that would warrant gunfire seems crazy to me.

    • Cops are trained to act on an impulse and make split second decisions. He felt threatened, he reacted accordingly.

      The only person to blame here is “Alex”. That he is coming public to let everyone know that he is a grossly irresponsible dog owner and bad example to his children is beyond my comprehension. I mean, the guy doesn’t seem to take any of the blame when it is 100% his fault.

      What now Alex? Gonna haul the family back to the disposable pet factory to get a fresh one?

      Nice example.

      • You’re probably a cop aren’t you? I read your disgusting comment. It takes a lot of practice to come up with the mental and emotional garbage you wrote. It was the most insensitive thing I’ve ever read. Alex adopted the pet from a private owner. And there is a family that is grieving.

  10. Wow. This shooting happened a few blocks from where I live. I also have 2 dogs, one large and one small, which are always leashed. I’ve encountered many unleashed dogs in that neighborhood without any attacks. I always carry pepper spray and if I’m approached by an unleashed dog, I first yell in a loud voice and stomp my feet. Pepper spray only comes into effect when I feel absolutely threatened. That usually keeps them away. Why didn’t this police officer carry pepper spray? Or use other tactics than shooting??

  11. trigger happy cop.

  12. Don’t let your dog off leash when not on your (secured) property. According to the law, that makes you negligent. And IF you let a dog off leash, DON’T let him run around corners where you can’t see him and keep him out of trouble. We are living in a city. Be responsible to other people & to your own dog.

  13. Mistake that dogs were unleashed, but bigger mistake that the off-duty police shot the dog and ran away.

    Too many cases around of police shooting people and dogs. In recent LA Times article a federal jury handed down a $3.5 million-dollar verdict against the LAPD, finding offiers were “malacious” and excessive when they shot a mentally ill woman and used a Taser on her.

    Postal people don’t have guns; off-duty cops walking their dogs shouldn’t have guns. Non-lethal weapons will do.

    If this cop is this jumpy, would he shoot a person who spooks him?

  14. Hypocrite had his dogs of-leash, which is against the law. The officer never should have pulled a gun. Now everyone is paying the consequences. Lesson learned.

  15. are off duty police officers allowed to carry their guns around and shoot at things?

    if so, why?

    • A police officer is always on duty. However, if he fires his service weapon or any other weapon he is required to file a report. If he missed the bullet could have ended up anywhere or in anybody.

  16. I still have a scar from where an off leash pit bull chomped on my knee while going after my terrier that was on a leash. And, I had a rabbit once that was attacked by an off-leash dog that jumped over our 7 ft fence into our backyard. Leash your dogs!!

  17. As a responsible dog owner (yes, a scary pit bull who just happens to have a CGC title — since breeds seem to matter so much that you kept referring to the dog in the story as one numerous times) who never lets her dog off-leash in public, I have zero sympathy for this Alex guy. I feel for Thunder that he had such an irresponsible owner and for the off-duty cop and his dog who must have been terrified to have two unattended large dogs accost them on a walk. There are so many places I can’t take my dog on a walk anymore because of all the entitled off-leash jerks who really don’t care if their dog attacks my leashed dog or jumps on a pregnant woman or circles small children.

    Of course, if the tables were turned and it was a leashed lab and an off leash, unattended pit bull who charged while barking this wouldn’t even be reported, much less having anyone express any doubt as to whether the officer was justified in his actions. Funny how prejudice makes some actions acceptable and others bring out the whiners.

    And, really the dog was a “family member”? Yeah, sure. That’s why the dog walked around with a bullet wound. If someone shot at my dog you best believe I would examine every square inch of him to make sure he was okay. When a “family member” dies you usually don’t load them into the trunk (god forbid you get dog hair on the upholstery!) of your car and dump them at a city facility so their body can be transported to the rendering plant. I mean maybe that’s how it works in Alex’s family, but if so that’s pretty sad. I wonder if spending the night in the backyard and never receiving medical care and being considered “security” was part of being a family member too.

    • Climb down. Suzanne, not everyone owns a Prius.

    • I believe the article says Alex didn’t realize the dog was hit.
      If the cop didn’t run off but said he made a mistake and shot Thunder, then this story could have gone another direction.

      Guns kill, that’s all there is to it. Guns KILL.

    • I’m with you Suzanne. Anyone that let’s their dogs run around freely and then doesn’t check their dog closely after the incident to see if it is injured deserves no sympathy. Poor dog.

  18. Two issues here:
    1) Owner allowed not just one, but two dogs off leash, fully acknowledging that Thunder had a history of running up to other dogs quickly and barking (other dog owners would have no idea if he was friend or foe). Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    2) Off-duty officer packing heat panicked/over reacted, shot the dog, did not give his name (is that correct?), did not identify himself as an off-duty officer (as I imagine he is required to do if he discharges a weapon in public) and took off.

    As sad as it is to say this, but for the owner allowing Thunder off leash, Thunder would still be alive.

    RIP Thunder, it didn’t need to happen.

    Both Thunder’s owner and the off-duty officer were in the wrong.

    • Thank you for your posting.
      I agree that there were 2 sides at fault in this situation.

      • I wonder what Cesar Milan would say about this?

        • Serioiusly, Cesar Millan should come out and make a statement on this incident. Perhaps he could educate the community on how to handle these situations, work with the owners and the policeman.
          This is a disturbing incident on so many levels.

  19. If Alex or any other member of Thunder’s family is reading this, check out the recent opinion from the California Court of Appeals in Plotnik v. Meihaus, 208 Cal. App. 4th 1590, 146 Cal. Rptr. 3d 585, 591 (2012). There California recognized the availability of recovering emotional distress damages from someone that kills your companion animal. The law used to treat companion animals like an inanimate piece of property, but that’s changing, and this case (which just came down a few weeks ago) represents a fairly significant shift in the law.

    • Interesting, but because Thunder was off-leash, I doubt he has a case. If he had been on leash it would be a very different story. But for….

  20. Katherine Spiers

    The dog would probably be alive if the owner had taken him to the vet. Between not doing that and having the dogs off-leash, I’m not convinced the owner cares about his dogs as much as he things he does.

  21. I would do anything for my incredibly spoiled dog, but… this story is wacky. I feel sad for the dog owner and especially the dog, but we do not live in Mayberry – you can’t just let your dogs run around unleashed. Two big dogs come running at me with no owner in sight, I would freak out too. And I’m sorry, but how do you not notice your dog has been SHOT. Alex’s story just does not make sense to me. Somebody is looking for a payout. The dog is the true victim here.

  22. Stop being idiots people and keep your dogs on a leash. If you aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to train your dog especially lead training and recall, then buy a cat. I mean any dog that doesn’t have a solid recall should never be allowed outside off leash unless fenced in. Poor dog. Bad owner.

  23. The off duty officer should have never drawn down, he was not in any danger nor was his dog , he posed a real threat when he discharged his weapon in public end of story.

    • Not defending the off duty officer who shot and ultimately killed the dog, but if the dog had been on leash, none of this would have happened. THAT is the end of the story.

      • Two dogs, one of which is big are running at you in the dark and your supposed to assume your in no danger! HUH? The responsibility is completely on the owner. Assuming it all went down as written I actually feel sorry for dog and the cop ( and I really don’t like cops) that he was even put in this situation. Its really unfair that he now has to defend himself.

    • Agreed, twitchy cop afraid of a black lab, the guy must be constantly s******g his pants while on duty!!!!

      • im not constantly s#%tting my pants at my job but i could sure as hell imagine i would if a 90 pound dog ( lab or not) was charging at me at night.

  24. The FB Site, DOGS SHOT BY POLICE have countless accounts of dogs being shot by police across the nation. Some of these dogs are shot inside their yards and homes. Get rid of guns. Use non-lethal force.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dogs-Shot-by-Police/188434097845629

  25. I bet if this was a white dog he would still be alive.

    • Shame on Alex.
      If this dog had a responsible owner he would still be alive.
      From this account I see a failure of the owner to train their dog, enough at least so he could be controlled on a leash by an adult male. Instead the owner decides to just ditch a leash altogether, endangering his pet and others. Then when the dog goes after another dog in the dark and shots are fired at him, the “dazed” dog isn’t taken to a vet but instead is left to die slowly and painfully at home; its suffering ignored by its “loving” owners. Horrific. This man should never have a pet and his other dog should be taken away immediately and re-homed.

  26. The owner says thunder was off his leash, will bark and growl but will not bite. So this off duty cop, who doesn’t know your dog at all, fears that both of his dogs are
    Going to attack him, so he shoots at them, unfortunately killing thunder. Now if he shot to protect his dog and not himself, them he is
    Wrong. Dogs are property and not a human life. To the owner sorry for the loss, but you should of had your dogs on a leash.

  27. I see people with their dogs unleashed all the time on hikes and on the street. This is how dogs get bit by snakes and attacked by other dogs. This is also how dogs get lost as they wonder off, it’s their nature to do so. Please need to follow the leash rules. If the god was on a leash he would be alive! Very sad situation!

  28. No doubt, off duty officers or members of the public should not be firing off weapons, but big dogs coming at you should never happen. This guy is looking for a pay out. If you live anywhere east of La Brea, you know how many stray dogs there are running around. Sad. If it is beloved, take care if the animal and keep it on leash. Be considerate of your neighbors and keep control of your animals. You would never want two big dogs running up to your family, barking and charging.

    • Why shouldn’t someone who is legally allowed to carry a gun not fire it when he’s being chased down by two dogs. This Alex is a total a#$hole the clincher is he didnt even know his dog was shot. Then he has the gall to say he wants the officer to be more careful. Give me a break.

      • Mark, did you really write this?
        “Why shouldn’t someone who is legally allowed to carry a gun not FIRE it ..”

        • yes. best case, guns are for protection when you’re in imminent danger. I dont have a gun but if I did and two dogs where running at me in the dark im pretty sure i would fire it too. Explain to me why anyone wouldn’t not only have the right but be pretty stupid not to fire under such circumstances

          • Police have to account for every discharge of their gun, even if it’s to a wall. So, no, I don’t agree that just because you legally own a gun, you can shoot a Family Pet. They’re suppose to use GOOD judgement before firing their gun, otherwise, we’d back in the Wild West, shooting one another at the slightest provocation.
            So, is that GOOD judgment to shoot a dog, when pepper spray will do the trick?

          • Was the off-duty officer in possession of pepper spray?

          • i guess we just completely disagree. if there is any time i would think its GOOD judgement to fire a gun its when two dogs are charging at you in the dark. I had a dog charge at me once in daylight out of nowhere. I can tell you it was scary and and instant primeval sense of self preservation kicked in. Im really glad it worked out and no one got hurt but in that moment I would have used a gun over pepper spray in a second and felt totally justified.

          • That’s the point: No gun. No pepper spray. No fatalities or even a pair of stinging and watery eyes. It all works out with no loss of life. Stray dogs were once common in EV and I don’t recall a single instance of one ever being shot to death. If I were as paranoid as this cop (or You for that matter) everyone would have to fear for their lives, which is the result of discovering that there’s an armed individual walking the dark streets of my neighborhood accompanied by a pitbull. Should I consider leveling the playing field next time I decide to go out for a wallk?

          • Ummmm. When the dogs are actually friendly. What this means is that when the well intentioned owners’ dogs get out by mistake this guy with the pitbull is waiting around the corner to shoot them. I’m pretty sure as a citizen you don’t get to shoot any barking dog without a leash. And, if that is the case, my neighbor better keep a close eye on his very annoying pet!

    • “…east of La Brea…”? How on earth is that pertinent to anything here??

      Please, Vanessa, do us all a favor – head west, pass La Brea, keep going and do not come back.

  29. “I just want the truth to be told,” said Alex during an interview at his home. “I want that officer just to know that he killed somebody’s family member and to be more careful.”

    You want the truth? You killed that poor “family member”, sir. You should be ashamed. You should not be allowed to own dogs… or children for that matter.

  30. I’m sorry your dog died and the cop should not have shot the dog, but LEASH YOUR DOGS.

  31. what about the cop who didn’t mention in his report that he shot a family pet, and that he talked to the owner and left the scene where it happened?

  32. “…but Alex found it hard to handle both dogs on leashes during walks. So, he started walking them in the late evening unleashed along the river.”

    Alex you are an irresponsible dog owner.

    Picking up your dog’s poop is also hard to handle. Soft, warm and smelly… enough to make even the most die hard dog fans gag.

    A good way to avoid having to pick up after your dog is to walk them late in the evening (fewer witnesses), better yet, let them run ahead of you so you can’t see them pooping next to the river. That way, you can always claim that it’s not your fault, I mean hey, they’re dogs… that’s what they do, poop in our neighborhood.

    (Irresponsible and self-entitled dog owners, I’m talking to you too. Pick up your pooch’s poop. Please.)

  33. No usual remarks from the shills about pit bulls and their owners? How very strange. And look at Delilah’s comment: such a strenuous exercise in equivocation. By the end of the post, she must have twisted herself into pretzel.

    • I’ve been wondering about the remarks as well – the cruel remarks of Thunder’s owner, but little said about the pit-bull-owning Off-Duty Cop who shot the dog, left the scene, and filed a report that said “he was confronted by a vicious dog…fired one round, missing the dog… the officer was not bitten or injured.”

      Of course, one or two people can just use pseudonyms in this discussion to deflect blame from the trigger-happy cop.

      The Investigators will know if he has prior history of being trigger-happy. They probably won’t get him for this one, but if he does again, or if he did in the past…. well, that’s another story for him.

    • Art, your insult would land a lot harder if you knew what equivocation meant.

  34. Wow, and this guy has kids!?

    I’d like to point out, the dog wasn’t only off-leash along the river, the article states they had turned up Dallas Street, so these dogs were off-leash the whole time. Not just during their walk along the river. The owner is irresponsible and 100% to blame for this.

    I feel sorry for the dog and the kids.

  35. I found this in Thunder’s site. Condolences to Thunder’s family who are suffering, and RIP Thunder.

    SAYING GOODBYE TO THUNDER
    In the name of God the Father,
    who created you and all the animals,
    in the name of Jesus the Son,
    who spoke of you in parables and stories,
    in the name of the Holy Spirit,
    in whom every creature lives, moves, and has their being,
    go now in peace, dear friend.

    May you find rest near refreshing waters,
    may you lie in cool, green pastures,
    and may you warm yourself under the sun that never sets.

    You have been my companion,
    my shadow and confidante,
    my comfort and playmate.
    You filled my days with life and brought me endless joy.
    For this I give thanks to God who gave you to me.

    Now return to your Maker who eagerly waits for you
    as you waited for me at the end of each day.
    In the Father’s arms, let there be no more pain.
    Let there be no more suffering.
    Let there be only light as it was on the day God created you.
    For our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

    Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and forever. Amen.

  36. Sad, sad story.

    1. Dogs should have been on-leash. Sorry, but two dogs chasing a pit bull is not a good scenario to begin with.
    2. Leaving Thunder at a shelter to be disposed of sickens me. The owner is facebook friendly. Dog lovers would have contributed to the $250 Cal-Pet charges for cremation if he couldn’t afford it.
    3. Off-duty policeman should be suspended/fired. He’s a menace to the community at large.

    • He’s a menace? How is that? He has two dogs approaching him, barking and growling at him. He is legally carrying a weapon to protect himself. Now if he shot at poor thunder thinking he was going to attack his pitbull, then he is wrong. Now if the dogs approached him and he believed he was about to be attack by two dogs then he was just protecting himself, he is in the right. Unfortunately we all don’t know the real story.

      • My husband is an LA Police officer and he doesn’t carry his service revolver when he walks the dogs. If this guy thought the dogs were charging him and about to attack, he could have fired into the air. The sound alone would startle a dog and make him stop in his tracks.

  37. I have read the story and all of the comments. The shooter may have been defending himself or he may have been a jerk. That’s not what’s at issue. There is only one question we need to ask: HAD THUNDER BEEN ON A LEASH, WOULD HE BE ALIVE TODAY? Forget about everything else and simply answer that question. And be honest.

  38. I’ve read 2 news articles in this paper and the owners statement. The case is still not very clear. There are many things I don’t understand-but I’ll leave some of that out in respect of the grieving owner. However, If an off-duty cop fired his gun at the dog and did not identify himself to the victim, make a statement, call it in immediately and just ran off-that is a major violation. That is not sanctioned police behaviour. Off-duty cops can be prosecuted easier than on duty cops. Why be so nice and understanding to this off-duty cop-if he truly acted in this manner? Don’t want him fired? Just want him to be more careful? That’s it? We need to fight back against this recklessness. If this off-duty cop violated procedure with a deadly weapon in this way he should lose his job.

  39. This is tragic, but yet a reminder that ALL dogs need to be on a leash when in a public area, not only is it the moral thing to do, it’s also the law. I am an avid runner of the Elysian Park trails, and there are always dogs running wild, and their owners are no where to be found. “Thunder is a large, black Lab who likes to run up to dogs and bark,” all the more reason to keep Thunder on a leash, maybe I don’t want Thunder running up to me or my dog and barking. I’m sorry to hear of your loss, but unfortunately you share a bit of the blame.

  40. Cop casually shoots labrador retriever who ran up to his dog and barked. That’s OK? No police report, nothing? After discharging his firearm in city limits at a dog that later died? He just says, bad dog to the surviving pitbull and walks away? Sounds like this guy has a bit of a problem. I hope LAPD gets him the help he clearly needs before something much worse happens.

    (And who doesn’t leash their dogs in a public space?)

  41. If the police officer would have told Alex that he shot thunder he would still be alive becasue he would have been taken to the vet. Alex did check Thunder but did not feel anything or saw any blood. Alex never saw a gun so there was no way to know it was a real gunshot he thought it could have been a firecracker. I would carry a stick not a gun to go walk my dogs. I do understand if the officer was scared but the least he could have done was to mention to the owner that his pet was shot or that he tried to shoot the dog so that the owner would take him to a animal hospital.

    And for the comments that he should not allowed to have kids, that is very disrespectful because he is a wonderful father! Who cares for his children very much. Besides what does that have to do with anything? NOTHING !

  42. Unfortunately there is one answer to this situation: leash your dogs.

  43. A terrible, but preventable tragedy. Any good dog guardian needs to go to training with their animal so they know how to control them and keep them safe (whether on leash or off). It is important for all sized dogs.

    I find it really surprising that the dog would have suffered a fatal gunshot wound that wasn’t discovered until the next day. I truly don’t see how can you possibly miss such an injury if you thoroughly check your animal. If it’s possible for me to find a tick on a 160 lb Rottweiller, how did he not discover a gunshot wound?

    While the officer acted incorrectly in discharging his firearm (there are other options in this kind of situation), Thunders owner really let him down by not having the dog properly trained to follow heal/ stay commands and not giving a thorough examination. This is a tough lesson, learned the hard way that I hope others get without this kind of senseless loss.

    A well trained animal is a happier and safer one.

  44. I am repulsed by all of the clueless apologists on this message board. A cop recieves all types of specialized training to deal with volatile situations and this Dummy — accompanied by a pitbull no less– can’t handle a stray dog without using his gun? Besides, Moreover, why flee the “scene of the crime” IF the shooting were justifiable? Moreover, I am utterly opposed to armed individuals walking the streets of my neighborhood to walk their dog. Seems to me that this paranoid imbecile was just looking for an excuse to shoot something and I don’t doubt for one second that this same imbecile would’ve pumped a bullet into another person if he felt “threatened”. It wouldn’t be the first time that the LAPD has committed murder on the streets of Elysian Valey.

  45. This is Los Angeles not some rural town in Montana…leash your dogs. If you can’t maintain your dogs on a leash how are you supposed to maintain them off leash? Yes, of course it is sad that Thunder paid the ultimate price for his owner’s ignorance. If this off duty officer was out walking with a child would people be so in an uproar? I carry pepper spray when walking my dog (on a leash) just in case we run into a strange dog that may be on the loose.

  46. Question: Does this mean that us regular people …..that we should be carrying guns with us when we walk our dogs? That is the message that I get from this.
    Justification for us to carry guns while dog walking. Is that the only way to protect oneself?
    It seems like if this guy had not had a gun what would he have done?
    This was not a typical police scenario.
    But one that could happen to any of us walking our dogs……what are the rest of us supposed to do?

  47. Why didn’t this officer report this,he simply has no regard for life! Now had he reported it like the good citizen he is Thunder may have been alive…I am sure his pitbull could have fought off the black lab. Trigger happy officer,packing a pistol and walking a dog through Frog Town,sound like a recipe for trouble.

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