Pet owners voice safety concerns to SLC council meeting

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SALT LAKE CITY -- On June 18, a search for a missing child led a Salt Lake City police officer to a backyard in Sugarhouse, where he instead found a 2-year old Weimeraner named Geist.

What happened next was considered to be a justified shooting by the police department, a decision the dog’s owner believes was an injustice.

“Chief Burbank refusing to take any disciplinary action is his public condoning of the killing of my dog,” said Sean Kendall, Geist’s owner.

He took to city hall to voice his frustrations on Tuesday night.

“This excuse that ‘I felt threatened’ is not ok,” said Kendall.

He and a crowd of supporters packed the council meeting to demand city council members intervene.

“I don’t feel like enough action, or really any action, has been taken to prevent this from happening again,” said one resident.

The council, however, can’t decide what happens to the officer involved or necessarily what happens next, as they reminded everyone in attendance.

“The executive branch, which is headed by the mayor, is responsible for the hiring and firing of city employees. The council, as the legislative branch, has no authority to hire or fire administrative employees,” said councilor, Erin Mendenhall, District 5.

But many were still hoping their efforts here could lead to a change in the future, recommending the city adopt a non lethal force policy for the department.

“What does the police department propose to keep our pets safe on our own private property? How do we as property owners protect our right of privacy, guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution? This is deeply concerning,” said a resident.

Related stories:

SLC cop cleared in shooting of Geist the dog

GRAPHIC: Dog owner posts video of talk with officers after dog killed

SLC police reviewing training for animal encounters, rally planned in support of dog shot by cop

11 comments

  • Summer

    This report wasn’t shy in mentioning that the mayor is in charge of hiring and firing city employees, and that the city council can’t do anything. What they failed to mention was that the MAYOR WAS THERE. They made it sound like the supporters were a bunch of idiots for asking for accountability from the city council, but the mayor was there for them to direct their comments to as well. Great accurate report Fox 13, but a lot of the speakers made it clear they were speaking to the mayor.

  • Desert Pete

    The 3-year old boy they found sleeping in his own home could never have gotten into Sean Kendall’s fenced back yard. At least there wasn’t a child playing with a toy gun in Kendall’s back yard when Officer Brett Olsen went charging in without using his head.

    • Cheryl

      All of the Olsen/police supporters, Burbank and even the Mayor keep throwing up the argument about how it was necessary and legal for Olsen to enter Sean Kendalls backyard and ultimately shoot Geist because a child was missing and everything and everyone is to be sacrificed for the safety of the child. How then is it okay for an officer to put himself in a position (because of not making his presence known and lack of observation) where he felt he had to fire his weapon potentially risking the life of the very child he was searching for and any other children or adults in the area. Not only is it okay to violate our constitutional rights and shoot our pets but it is okay to put the lives of our children in danger as well. It would seem that the supporters, Burbank and the Mayor don’t care that much about the children after all. This is unacceptable to me as an American, as a pet owner and as a mother and grandmother.

  • C'MON PEOPLE

    To have a pet isn’t a constituional right. if it were livestock, it’d be a different story.

    Humans over K9 anyday. You can get another dog, can’t get another 3 year old child.

    • Desert Pete

      No, C’MON PEOPLE, having a dog constituional right. Neither is it a constitutional right for a police officer to enter your fenced back yard and shoot your dog. This wasn’t a life and death situation that warranted panic on behalf of a police officer who should have used some common sense.

      • rich

        And what a relief it was to find him safe. So many time predators take these small children and do unthinkable things to them, taking them into hidden places, and even killing them. At the time the police were searching every possible place including backyards. No one knows how your animal reacts without the owner present. Next time your child is missing consider where and what limits you want the search to curtail.

      • Desert Pete

        Sorry, Rick, but the chances of a 3-year old boy entering a back yard with a fence tall enough and secure enough to contain a large dog are ZERO. You may not understand the concept but there isn’t one single officer on the Salt Lake Police force, and that inlcudes Officer Brett Olsen, who doesn’t know he screwed up.

    • Suzanne

      Seriously?! Well you obviously have never loved or been loved by a dog. They are no more replaceable than a child. And yes, people can have more children, just as they can get another dog, but it doesn’t replace the one that was lost. That was an ignorant and insensitive remark.

    • Cheryl

      I was not referring to having a dog as a constitutional right. I was referring to being safe from warrantless search. Constitutional violation and the destruction of the dog are two separate issues. I apologize if that was unclear. Also, this was never an either or case. Never did anyone have to chose between the dog and a child.

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