Protest at Utah State Capitol focuses on pets shot by police

Posted at 4:47 PM, Oct 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-26 01:14:34-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A rally was held at the Utah State Capitol Saturday afternoon to bring awareness to the issue of officer related shootings involving pets, and the event was one of several such rallies held across the country.

Many people from the Justice for Geist movement were there, including the owner of the dog who was shot by a Salt Lake City police officer last June.

The national activist group Freeze Don’t Shoot organized rallies at state capitols all across the country Saturday.

“They are supposed to make me feel safe, they make me nervous,” said Sarah Bair, who is an Ogden resident.

About four dozen protestors gathered on the southern steps of the Capitol building Saturday, and many people brought their dogs and homemade signs that read things like,"Dogs are family" and "Justice for Geist."

“As long as that one officer who violates his oath to serve and protect is not prosecuted under the same law, all officers share that shame,” said Salt Lake City resident Sean Kendall, who is the owner of Geist.

It's been four months since an SLC PD officer shot and killed Geist in defense while looking for a missing little boy. The officer had entered a backyard during the search, where he encountered Kendall's dog.

Chief Chris Burbank, Salt Lake City Police Department, has defended the officer and worked to extinguish the feud with angry citizen protest groups like Justice for Geist and Freeze Don’t Shoot, but it appears some are still quite hot over the issue. Kendall said he’s no longer angry but is motivated for change.

“Chief Burbank announced they are doing some animal encounter training which is good, it’s a start, but there’s still so much more that needs to be done for this to be right,” he said.

Both the SLC PD and Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office have both said they plan to look at training for encounters with animals. Burbank hasn’t commented on the issue since June.

Click here to visit the Facebook page for Utah's chapter of Freeze Don't Shoot.

Related stories:

SLC cop cleared in shooting of Geist the dog

Candidates for county sheriff discuss specialized canine training for cops