A video of a California police officer punching a K-9 dog in the head has stirred widespread outrage.
The official Facebook page for the police, however, defended the officer’s actions as a routine training exercise. But their explanation is leaving very few people satisfied.
The incident was filmed by a bystander in Vacaville, California.
WARNING: video contains violence against an animal
A @VacavillePolice officer training to be a K-9 handler is seen on this video hitting his dog. Man who took video says officer punched dog as many as 10X before the recording. Dept says officer was “correcting” the dog after it lunged & almost bit him. 5:10, 6, 7:40 p.m. @KTVU pic.twitter.com/gVMoZAjOZK
— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) December 29, 2020
Robert Palomino, a floor installer who filmed the video, witnessed the incident near his warehouse in Vacaville.
He told local news outlet KTVU he witnessed the officer punching the dog at least 10 times before he began filming.
“I was wondering myself, what the dog could have done to deserve that kind of punishment?”
Roberto Palomino was shocked to see a Vacaville officer punching his K-9 repeatedly as the dog cried in pain. Police say the beating was a "correction." https://t.co/ig72F4Sj5r
— KTVU (@KTVU) December 30, 2020
Palomino reported the officer involved frequently looked around the premises, seemingly checking for anyone who might be witnessing the incident.
He eventually stopped punching the dog when he spotted Palomino. Palomino did not intervene at the time because he was afraid of how the officer might retaliate against him, but felt he had to speak out after the fact to prevent future incidents.
But Vacaville police Captain Matt Lydon had a different take on the video.
While he acknowledged the video could be “alarming to a lay person” not familiar with the process of training police dogs, he described the incident as a routine exercise resulting from a moment of aggression the dog showed toward the officer.
Super clear video of the K9 officer punching his K9. Make him famous 🤬🤬. Vacaville Police Department. This happened yesterday..the K9 is still in his possession. 🤬🤬. 707-449-5200 or 707-449-5210. @Love4PoliceDogs @Christina_Roof @anneballentine1 @Boxster240 @k9sofvalor pic.twitter.com/Ex30wQP4Qn
— 🇺🇸Robin Phillips🇺🇸 (@Airforcemom2005) December 29, 2020
— 🇺🇸Robin Phillips🇺🇸 (@Airforcemom2005) December 30, 2020
As Lydon told KTVU:
“It’s important in K-9 training that the handler take swift action to correct the dog’s behavior.”
But Palomino was not at all convinced.
He felt what he witnessed didn’t accord with a simple dog-training exercise.
“I feel very sorry for the dog, I’m not going to lie to you… I don’t think nobody can be trained, even if it was that, like that. That was way too much abuse.”
And as the story has unfolded, Captain Lydon seems to have reached a similar conclusion as well.
A previous Vacaville Police Department Facebook post on the matter was updated to report the dog had been removed to a third party outside the department and an investigation into the incident had been launched.
People on Twitter were outraged by the incident and the Vacaville Police Department’s response.
Oh what the heck dude. This is my town. I am ashamed. 😳😓 Animals all deserve love, all the love
— Siri (@SireniaDaptari) December 29, 2020
All of their dogs should be seized. No telling how many others have been abused by these monsters. @aspca
— Tyler King (@TylerAKing) December 29, 2020
Correcting a dog by punching, holding it down? Even if this somehow makes an animal more docile (which is doubtful), the means don't justify the end.
— Kathleen Kirkwood (@kkirkwood) December 30, 2020
And a Vacaville Police Captain defends this as “corrective” action. Hard to believe that. Would love to hear from canine trainers on this!
— Bob Kenny (@bken1959) December 30, 2020
@VacavillePolice This is not a “correction”, it’s abuse. This man shouldn’t be responsible for a dog…and I’d have concerns about his behavior towards people!
— boardergrl (@boardergrl) December 30, 2020
@VacavillePolice this is unacceptable!!! If this officer treats an animal this way, I can only imagine what he will do to humans! He needs to be terminated this is clearly unjustifiable
— Megan ♡ (@maryjanemeg) December 30, 2020
What pisses me off the most is that they are trying to play it down as all of viewers seeing the video as a "pet" view. Little do they know that the people commenting are/have been actively involved with K9 training, handling or been around them enough to know the difference!
— MBW (@mustang_brit) December 30, 2020
Care to try again @vacaville PD? That’s BS!!! Maybe the officer should surrender his dog NOW before he abuses the poor dog any further???
— K9_Xena (@VixenCD2005) December 30, 2020
Let's hear from Officers & their K9 partners. Worked with PD years ago & rescue. Never did our officers handle their canines this way. There reply is pure BS. Plain & simple the K9 does not like the handler. Glad you are keeping it circulated.
— BeeDee2 (@zoeybird9) December 30, 2020
@VacavillePolice IF you trained your human officer correctly then there is no reason for a canine to become aggressive!! Except to be defensive from abuse by his officer.
— K9_Xena (@VixenCD2005) December 30, 2020
While the dog has been removed from the police department pending an investigation, Captain Lydon has not spoken about whether there will be any reassignment or repercussions for the officer in the video.