On August 5, 2010, Bear-Bear, a Siberian Husky, was at the Quail Run dog park in Severn with the brother-in-law of the dog’s owner. The dog park in question is located just a short distance from Brooklyn Park. He had the dog in the fenced area of the park, where dogs are permitted to be off their leashes. Keith Shepherd, a federal police officer came to the park and entered the enclosure with his wife and their German Shepherd. The German Shepherd remained leashed and began playing and rough housing with the Siberian Husky. Keith Shepherd is a civilian police officer employed by the Department of the Army. He had been placed on administrative leave by his commander, but it is unclear if he is still on that leave, and what the disposition of his job will be now that the charges have been announced.
At this time, the police officer commanded Bear-Bears guardian to “get your dog”. He says that Bear-Bear attacked and was biting his dog and also tried to bite him when he tried to separate the dogs. He then pulled his personal weapon, a 9mm Glock pistol and shot the dog. Emergency efforts to save the dog failed and he died at the veterinarian’s office.
Witnesses maintain that the dogs were only playing and that the police officer never gave the Siberian Husky’s guardian an opportunity to secure the dog as requested. The story has been ongoing since county executive John Leopold demanded that a thorough investigation be completed. The investigation which had been closed was then reopened due to the request of the county executive.
As animals lovers waited impatiently for the decision of the Anne Arundel County District Attorney the case gained notoriety, spawning several groups on Facebook demanding justice for Bear-Bear.
Well today their demands have finally been answered and the result is that Keith Shepherd has been charged with two misdemeanor counts. Count 1 is cruelty to animals which carries up to a $1,000.00 fine, and count 2 is discharging a firearm within 100 feet of an occupied structure which also carries up to a $1,000.00 fine. The two charges combined carry a maximum of 9 months in jail if convicted.
Those interested in the case are relieved to learn that this will not go unpunished. John Leopold stated that the charges seem appropriate and consistent with laws that are currently on the books but that a hard look at stiffening the penalties for these crimes is in order.
It is still unknown as yet whether Bear-Bear’s owner will pursue a civil suit against the officer, but it appears that it will happen.