CAMPBELL COUNTY, Tenn. — A years-old video surfaced recently that showed a Campbell County Sheriff's Office deputy yanking the leash of a dog multiple times before lifting it off the ground and swinging it around as it yelped and cried.
As the video was shared online, CCSO said the officer was put on administrative leave and an investigation was underway into the video. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an advocacy organization focused on animal rights and safety, asked the sheriff's office Friday to move the deputy off duties involving animals.
The video shows a deputy training with a large dog, walking by another man on training grounds. It was not immediately clear what the training was specifically for, but as the dog passes the other man, the dog's attention turned toward him.
Almost immediately, the deputy yanks the dog back. The dog is heard yelping as the deputy reels back to yank the leash again. The dog then screams as the deputy hoists it up onto its hind legs.
The yelping and screaming continue for a moment until the dog is lifted into the air and off its hind legs. It then goes silent and is swung to the other side of the deputy. As the deputy appears to turn towards the camera, the video ends and the device points down to the ground.
PETA said they gathered expert opinions about how K-9 Santo was treated by Lieutenant Nathaniel Bostic. They said they did not reveal the agency involved or other identifying information to the experts. In a letter to the county Sheriff, one expert said Bostic went too far in correcting K-9 Santo's behavior during training.
"The quick response from the handler was appropriate as to not let the K-9 bite while passing [the decoy,]" said one trainer. "The initial correction was enough. The verbal response from the K-98 was evidence that the correction was received. The second correction was probably due to how the officer was trained ... The hanging of that K-9 was unwarranted. That dog ... had verbally shown where the two previous corrections were received ... He displayed his frustration through hanging the K-9. Totally wrong for doing that."
Another expert emphasized that the deputy began choking the dog by raising it off the ground and that expert said they would have intervened.
"My real concern here is that when the dog begins to whine, it tells me that the dog knows what is coming and that it is going to be painful because the dog has clearly experienced this behavior from the handler before," said Jeffrey Doyle, who PETA said worked in law enforcement for 38 years.
He later said that if a dog is afraid of his handler, it tends not to perform as well. He said that the dog may "shut down" while working, putting the handler and the dog at risk. It also makes the dog more hesitant, since it's afraid of making a mistake.
"The handler has trained the dog to fear him," PETA said in its letter. "We urge you to remove Santo from Bostic’s care immediately and, at a minimum, reassign Bostic so that he has no contact with animals."
PETA said the dog was given a clean bill of health by its veterinarian.