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Programmed to Kill: The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Dogs

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Almost two years after the firestorm that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, when a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager and militarized police descended in a brutal show of force to quell local protests, not much has really changed for the better.

Unarmed Americans are still getting shot by police with alarming regularity.

SWAT teams are still bursting through doors, terrorizing families and leaving lives and property shattered.

And the military industrial complex is still making a killing (literally and figuratively) at taxpayer expense from the transformation of small-town police forces into extensions of the military.

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What has changed is the extent to which Americans--easily distracted by all of the political mumbo jumbo being bantered around--seem to have stopped paying attention or being outraged about revelations of government corruption, wrongdoing and outright abuse.

Part of this ignorance can be attributed to the failure of the mainstream media to report on what's really taking place in the American police state.

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Another part of this apathy can be chalked up to a widespread desensitization to police violence, thanks to the growing availability and accessibility of surveillance and camera footage. As Salon points out, "the increased visibility of trauma and death at the hands of cops" has resulted in "the deadening of our collective senses."

And yet another part of this indifference seemingly stems from the fact that we just don't value human life as much as we should. How many Americans seem unconcerned about the carnage inflicted on civilians worldwide as a result of the nation's bloody, endless wars abroad?

If there's one area where Americans do seem to still get outraged, it's in relation to their pets, who occupy a sizeable place in their hearts, homes and wallets.

According to newspaper editors, "stories about animal abuse often generate more responses from upset readers than articles about violence directed toward humans." Reports from police agencies support the claim that "shooting a dog brings more heat down on an agency than an officer-involved shooting of a human."

Prepare to be outraged.

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A dog is shot by a police officer "every 98 minutes."

The Department of Justice estimates that at least 25 dogs are killed by police every day.

The Puppycide Database Project estimates the number of dogs being killed by police to be closer to 500 dogs a day(which translates to 182,000 dogs a year).

Because not all police departments keep track of canine shootings, these numbers vary widely. However, whatever the final body count, what we're dealing with is an epidemic of vast proportions.

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)
 

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