Cop Runs Over Old, Deaf Dog 3 Times, Then Shoots Her
Merrick - a beloved family dog who just happened to be deaf - had managed to make it all the way to 21 years of age.
Still, she never lost her talent for sniffing out an adventure. When a storm blew open the back gate at her home in Collingwood, just north of Toronto, the old dog ventured off into the night.
But then in an unexpected and tragic turn, Merrick was run over three times by a police cruiser before she was finally shot dead.
Her crime? Police thought she was a coyote. In fact, she was a cattle dog. The disturbing Monday night encounter was captured on video.
Warning: Disturbing content below
It appears to show a police cruiser plowing over the dog several times.
An officer emerges from the car. Gunshots ring out.
The rest of the harrowing soundtrack comprises screaming, breathless witnesses offering a steady refrain of "Oh god Oh god Oh god."
"Look, he's hitting it again. Oh my god, he just ran the coyote over ... Oh god, oh no, stop it. No!"
Karen Sutherland, the dog's owner, told reporters that Merrick suffers from dementia, and had slipped through a gate in her backyard during a storm.
"I'm a little bit in shock ... I didn't watch the video until [Wednesday] morning. It was enough to make me a lot more upset than I was last night," Sutherland told CityNews.
Christine Soti, a Collingwood resident who witnessed the incident, told the Globe and Mail that Merrick was still moving after being hit by the car a third time. "The eyes were opening and closing."
In the wake of Merrick's killing, police are facing tough questions about how officers deal with animal situations.
The Ontario Provincial Police did not immediately return a call to The Dodo, but Inspector John Trude told Postmedia Network that there had been complaints from two residents about a coyote on the loose.
"When the officer got there, it was growling," he said. "The actions of the dog caused the officer to believe it was still aggressive.
"Of course, in hindsight, there was an explanation for it. But (with) what the officer knew at the time, he came to the conclusion that, first, it was a coyote and, secondly, that it was ill or not normal and that for the safety of the fairly-residential community, it had to be put down."
Generally, police base their decisions to put down an animal on the level of threat posed to the public. Or, as Trude explained, "an honest belief that it's a danger to let that animal go."
The case will be investigated by the professional standards bureau, which could result in "corrective action" against an officer.
As for coyotes, there are a couple of conflicting theories on just how much of a threat they pose to public safety. Wildlife experts suggest that "threat" is pretty much nonexistent, unless - and this is a big unless - they are in such a pinch for food that they lose their fear of humans.
A few days after the shooting, a small group of people and their dogs gathered in the spot where Merrick lost her life. They paid tribute to the faithful pet, while calling on police to change the way they interact with wildlife.
An online petition is also being circulated. But today, Sutherland is simply missing her best friend.
"I've had her my whole adult life," Sutherland told Collingwood Connection. "She's been through five or six relationships with me. People used to say, 'Oh my god, is she still alive?' and I used to always joke that she was still alive to look after me."