Police departments sometimes fail to hold employees accused of wrongdoing accountable. Stories about suspicious officer-involved shootings and other similar incidents are too often followed by reports of the officers in question being suspended with pay and inevitably staying on the beat. However, the Baltimore Police Department took a different approach after learning that one of its own allegedly slashed a stray dog’s throat on the job last Saturday. WBAL-TV is reporting that Officer Jeffrey Bolger was charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty and suspended without pay after he fatally slashed a 7-year-old lost shar-pei’s throat, which was already secured by a catch pole used to contain stray animals.
The shar-pei, named Nala, belonged to Sarah Gossard and escaped from her fenced yard. Gossard disseminated pictures of the lost dog and began searching throughout her neighborhood. Neighbor Sandy Fleischer found Nala and was nipped while trying to grab and restrain her. Fleischer then called Baltimore Police, seeking help with rescuing Nala and returning her to her owner.
Said Fleischer to WBAL-TV, “The dog was more scared of not knowing where it was and being thirsty and disoriented. The dog bit me out of fear because I tried to touch it, which was my fault.” The responding officers allegedly used sticks to try to corral the shar-pei, which was characterized as behaving in a docile manner at the time. Fleischer continued, describing the way in which the officers contained Nala with the catch pole, “You could hear the dog screaming and crying in pain. I did see one officer that had been extremely aggressive that did have his knee into her chest that was tightening the noose. It seemed (they were doing it) relentlessly and unnecessarily.”
After Nala was restrained in the catch pole, Officer Jeffrey Bolger, who had been working in law enforcement since 1992, produced a knife and fatally slit the dog’s throat. His shocking actions went unreported until the following Monday, as Sandy Fleischer was no longer present to witness the incident at the time that it occurred. The Baltimore Police Department is currently investigating why the other officers did not report the crime immediately.
Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere was quoted by WBAL-TV as saying, “Unfortunately, at some point after the dog was contained, one of our officers used a knife and cut the dog’s throat. This is outrageous and an unacceptable breach of our protocol. We have no words to describe this. To say that we are appalled at the allegations, I think, is an understatement.” Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said, according to The Washington Post, “There is no procedure or training that justifies this behavior.”
Nala’s owner, Sarah Gossard, who described her pet as “the sweetest dog,” was not told about her dog’s death until Wednesday.