06/17/2004

Officer Who Shot Dog Must Complete More Training on Canine Aggression

The Associated Press

Bixby, Okla. (AP) -- Police here must take a course on assessing canine aggression after an officer shot a family's tethered golden retriever while checking a burglary report.

Bixby police chief Anthony Stephens ordered his department to take the course on June 29.

The order comes after officer Cory Forister on June 5 shot Fluppy, a 6-year-old golden retriever that belonged to John and Cathy Benzinger. The dog had to be euthanized.

The dog was tied by a 43-foot line in the Benzinger's backyard, but Forister, who was responding to the family's burglar alarm, was afraid the barking and charging dog would reach him, Stephens said.

Forister failed to "exhaust other means of force available to him before using deadly force," Stephens said.

John Benzinger said the loss of Fluppy has been very difficult for him, his wife and their three children.

"It wasn't a malicious act but one of poor reaction and poor judgment in a situation that police should be trained for," Benzinger said.

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