Dog Shooting Tied to DonationPosted on January 7, 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
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
"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
"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."