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Animal groups demand probe into shooting of dog by Barcelona policeman

Municipal authorities say the officer acted in self-defense after the animal bit him, but some eyewitnesses say he was not attacked

Warning: Graphic images of the dog after it was shot.

Nearly 200 people gathered outside Barcelona City Hall on Wednesday to demand an investigation into a municipal police officer who shot a dog dead on Tuesday after claiming that the animal was attacking him.

The protest was called by PACMA, the animal rights party, which wants Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau to investigate the facts of the case. The incident took place where Gran Vía meets Plaça de Espanya, in the neighborhood of Sants.

Barcelona loves animals, and we don’t want incidents such as this one to happen again

Mayor Ada Colau

According to the police version of events, two officers walked up to a street vendor to inform him that his dog should be restrained to comply with city bylaws. The young man, who was reported as homeless, allegedly took a confrontational attitude and refused to tie up the animal, which was a mixed-breed female named Sota.

The police said that the dog attacked one of the officers, biting his hand. Its owner was unable to control her, and she lunged again, at which point the officer took out his service weapon and shot her in the head.

Eyewitnesses gave varying accounts of the incident, with some denying that the dog had attacked the policeman. A witness who identified himself simply as Carlos said he had just walked out of the subway station when he saw the officers “speaking rudely to the young man.”

Protest outside Barcelona City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
Protest outside Barcelona City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. Europa Press

According to Carlos, the dog got nervous and started to bark at one of the policemen, “without biting him.” “That was when one of the officers took out an extendable baton and threatened the dog’s owner, and the other officer took out his gun and shot the dog in the head.”

All witnesses agree on what happened next: the young man took a look at his dog, grabbed his skateboard and hit the policeman with it on the head, breaking one of his teeth. Several police officers arrived at the scene to restrain the dog’s owner, who was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.

The Barcelona police has conducted an internal review, and concluded that the officer responded appropriately in a situation where his physical safety was at risk. In a tweet, Mayor Colau lamented the dog’s death but also requested “prudence before reaching conclusions.”

“Barcelona loves animals, and we don’t want incidents such as this one to happen again. When the investigation ends, we will review the protocols on dealing with animals to find a margin for improvement.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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