Animal rights activists continue to demand justice for Zuul, a North Carolina police dog that was allegedly abused by its handler.
The controversy began earlier this week after an anonymous source released unsettling footage of a K-9 training session in Salisbury. An unidentified officer is seen approaching Zuul and shouting “Stay!” before he lifts the canine from its leash and slams it into a vehicle. The video then shows the unidentified officer shoving Zuul into the car before seemingly striking it. A bystander who is out of the frame is heard saying, “We’re good; no witnesses,” before there is a brief discussion about turning off cameras.
Police Chief Jerry Stokes addressed the matter during a Tuesday press conference, claiming independent investigators were looking into the matter. Stokes said the involved officer has been administratively separated from the K-9, who is reportedly in good health, as the investigation continues. It’s unclear when the video was filmed.
“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 when provided out of context. SPD cannot and will not comment about whether the training tactics used in the video were appropriate, because that is still being reviewed.”
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has since conducted protests outside the Salisbury Police Department, demanding the involved officers be prosecuted for animal cruelty.
“There is no scenario in which this handler’s behavior could be considered acceptable by any standard, and we believe this is far more than an internal disciplinary matter: It is criminal conduct,” PETA wrote in a letter. “Furthermore, witnesses who took no action and in fact engaged in a cover-up of this incident also bear responsibility for this dog’s suffering … We trust that you will do the right thing and take strong department-wide action, sending the message that the type of violence shown in this viral video will not be tolerated. Otherwise, this handler’s vicious behavior and that of those who witnessed the abuse and hoped it wouldn’t be discovered will dominate the public’s perception of your department’s work.”