There is a growing and disturbing trend of family dogs being killed by police officers.
Five-year-old Eli Malone was celebrating his birthday with friends at his home in Wynnewood, Oklahoma when his beloved dog, Opie, became a victim to "puppycide."
Elie's mother, Vickie, said she had just brought the children inside after playing to serve cake and ice cream when they heard a loud bang. When her son looked out the window, he saw his dog, a three-year-old American bulldog and pitbull mix, lying on the ground, with a police officer standing over him.
When the family raced outside, Opie was still alive. Officer, Joshua Franklin, was on the other side of the family's fence, holding his gun. He went back to his car, took out an Ar-15, and shot Opie two more times, ending his life. Reportedly, Franklin told the family the dog had tried to attack him through the fence.
The Malones say they do not believe Franklin's account. The dog was behind a fenced enclosure, and they say Opie was good with children and very friendly.
In a statement to Fox 25, Wynnewood police chief Ken Moore maintained that the shooting was justified.
Adding Insult to Injury
To add insult to injury, Officer Franklin was not at the home for anything related to the Malones or any of their guests. The warrant he had was for a man named Shon McNiel, who had lived at the address 10 years earlier.
Understandably, Elie is distraught over the graphic loss of his dog. He built his pup a wooden cross to mark his grave.
Vickie Malone said that the incident had a severe impact on the children and that they no longer want to go outside to play anymore. Most importantly, little Elie is devastated that the police department has not issued an apology for what occurred.
The Wynnewood Police Department and Officer Joshua Franklin did not respond to requests for comment.
The Prevalence of "Puppycide"
Unfortunately, this tragic story is not the first of its kind. According to "Inside Edition," it is estimated that a dog is killed by a police officer every 98 minutes.
This phenomenon, labeled "puppycide" by pet advocates, is mainly due to ignorance. Police officers typically do not undergo training on how to handle canines or how to recognize dog body language, so most cannot distinguish between a friendly greeting and a vicious threat.
Photos via Fox25