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Police Shoot, Kill, Arthritic 11-Year-Old Lab in Her Own Backyard

Gloria was a sweet, arthritic, 11-year-old yellow Lab. She'd been with her family since she was a pup, and she was everything to them. The...

Maria Goodavage  |  Oct 4th 2010


The note left by police explaining how they shot and killed 11-year-old yellow Lab, Gloria (Photos: Laura Morton, San Francisco Chronicle)

Gloria was a sweet, arthritic, 11-year-old yellow Lab. She’d been with her family since she was a pup, and she was everything to them. The other day their burglar alarm went off, and police went to investigate. Gloria, who had trouble walking because of her arthritis, came out the back door to see what was going on, and within seconds, she was dead — shot three times by an officer who said the old girl was advancing on him in a “threatening manner.”

According to a police statement, Officer Victor Garcia told investigators that “the dog was growling and closing the gap between them as the officer was retreating backward…As the dog continued to advance, the officer discharged his firearm, killing the dog.”

Mary Kate Hallock with Gloria's leash

The family says Gloria could bark and growl when feeling protective about her backyard, but was gentle and would never have harmed anyone. “There is no way you couldn’t stop Gloria — if you simply drop a doughnut or ham sandwich in front of her,” owner Ward Hallock told a local ABC news station. He questions why the officer didn’t use a Taser, or pepper spray, or any other non-lethal means of subduing her if he thought she was dangerous.

Ward Hallock’s wife, Mary Kate Hallock, said she was out running errands, and came back to find a quick note with the devastating news.

“I read the note eight or 10 times and it just doesn’t make sense to me,” she told the Oakland Tribune.

The entire family is distraught. Isabel, 11, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. She and her brother, Matthew, 15, keep feeling like Gloria will just walk back inside and the nightmare will be over. Matthew picked her out when he was only 3 years old, because she looked like his favorite stuffed animal. The family named her Gloria because she was born on Christmas Eve.

The officer and the department have expressed their regret, calling the incident “unfortunate.” The matter is under investigation, but Ward Hallock says he’s not going to press charges. He just wants to help prevent this from happening to another innocent dog.

It seems that police have been getting more trigger happy lately when it comes to dogs. In August an off-duty federal officer shot and killed a dog in a dog park when the dog and his dog started playing roughly. (The officer’s dog was on a leash.) Last month, a St. Petersburg officer shot and killed two leashed dogs. He says they were attacking an unleashed blind dog, but the dogs’ owner says an unleashed dog had actually attacked his dogs. I don’t know who was right, but it does seem excessive. (Dogsters, I haven’t reported on these stories on the blog because there’s just so much sad news I can subject you to. But they all come together because of this incident.)

I hope police departments around the country can look to the case of Gloria to examine their protocol for dealing with dogs. Any of our dogs can be in danger if law enforcement deems him or her as a threat. Something needs to be done to prevent a Gloria tragedy from ever happening again.

The family has been offered several new pups from well-meaning people, via the police department, but family members need time to process this shocking loss. They will bury Gloria’s cremated remains in the very back yard where she was killed.

Rest in peace, dear old girl…


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