Dog Shooting Tied to DonationJanuary 7th, 2004
(Riviera Beach, Florida) A Florida police department has donated $500 to ALDF as part of a settlement with Paul Potter, whose dog was killed by one of its officers nearly two years ago. The Riviera Beach Police Department also donated $2,500 to the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida and $1,900 to a trust account established for the Potter family.
In March of 2002, two Riviera Beach policemen responded to a silent burglar alarm that had been activated at a house next door to Potter's. The officers entered the Potter home by mistake, and an 8-year-old Springer spaniel named Bridgette heard them and went to investigate. One of the officers shot and killed Bridgette — who was mere feet from where Paul Potter sat watching television. When Potter ran out and asked the policeman why he'd killed Bridgette, the officer replied, "Standard police procedure" (though the Riviera Beach P.D. later disciplined the officer for several violations of procedure).
Represented by ALDF member attorney Fred Cohen, Potter brought suit against the police department, and the settlement was reached late last year.
"We're gratified that there was a reasonable payment to two organizations that are in the forefront of improving the lives and conditions of all living things, even if they are not human," Cohen says. "We accepted this settlement offer in the spirit in which it was offered and on behalf of Bridgette, a beloved companion and an innocent victim who was doing no more and no less than her job on behalf of her human guardian."
"While Bridgette can never be replaced, we are heartened that the Riviera Beach Police Department has acknowledged the terrible sense of loss experienced by Bridgette's human family," adds ALDF's founder and general counsel Joyce Tischler. "Unfortunately, what happened in Riviera Beach is not an isolated incident. In most cases, these tragedies can be avoided through the training of police officers in dog behavior and management and the use of non-lethal deterrents. ALDF stands ready to assist Riviera Beach or any other jurisdiction that wishes to establish such a training program."