A North Carolina police officer swung his K-9 partner over his shoulder by a leash and slammed the dog into a vehicle, disturbing video shows.
The clip shows an unnamed Salisbury cop giving a command to his police dog, Zuul, after the animal exited an SUV during a training session.
The officer then approached the animal and put a leash on the dog before lifting it up by the neck and slamming the pooch into the side of the vehicle, video obtained by WJZY shows.
“We’re good, no witnesses,” an onlooker said as the officer dragged the animal back to the SUV.
“Stay!” the cop yelled at the dog once putting the animal back into the SUV. The officer also appeared to hit the dog while giving the command, video shows.
“Is your camera on?” another person then asks on the footage, which was sent to the station anonymously.
An investigation into the incident is now underway, Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes told reporters Tuesday during a news conference alongside Zuul.
“SPD’s review of and response to this matter is and will continue to be thorough and fair so as to provide due process to everyone involved,” Stokes said in a statement. “SPD can confirm that, as a matter of course, the officer has been administratively separated from the canine while SPD conducts its review. The canine was not harmed and is healthy and is well-cared-for.”
Canine experts, including former law enforcement dog handlers and a police K-9 training firm, will take part in the review, Stokes said. The chief said the officer’s actions may have been part of the dog’s training, but declined to say Tuesday that whether the tactics were appropriate, WJZY reported.
“When a canine is noncompliant with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog,” Stokes said. “Canine training tactics and corrective measures can sometimes be alarming out of context.”
The chief declined to identify the officer involved, but said reports that the animal was tased were false.
Stokes declined to take questions Tuesday, but veteran dog handlers said the officer’s actions showed what “you should not do” when handling K-9s.
“By slinging the dog over his shoulder, carrying him back, he’s cutting off that blood supply and air for several seconds, and then by throwing him in the vehicle the way he did, he risked causing some cervical spine or cerebral spine injuries to the dog,” Ron Taylor, a handler of more than 20 years, told WJZY.
Taylor said the potential damage to the dog could cost the department thousands of dollars in training, potentially up to $25,000.
“Now going forward, the dog’s going to have to reconsider whether he gets out of the car at all,” Taylor said.
Critics of the cop said the department should kick him to the curb.
“Fire him!” one person wrote on Facebook. “That video was disgusting! No animal should ever be treated that way.”