Police shooting of dog sparks bitter protests

Discrepancies between police and witness statements over the circumstances leading to the shooting of a barking dog named "Lucky" have raised hackles in Zaragoza.

Police shooting of dog sparks bitter protests
"Lucky" was described by police as weighing 50kg and acting aggressively but witness statements disagree. Photo: Twitter

Local police have come under fire from residents of the Delicias neighbourhood of Zaragoza, capital of the autonomous region of Aragon in Spain, after an officer shot and killed a 15-year-old dog named "Lucky" on Friday afternoon.

According to official sources, the dog was shot dead after it attacked four people, including the policeman's patrol partner, in nearby streets.

Police described the dog's behaviour as "dangerous" and "aggressive" and noted that its elderly owner, who they claim was "in a drunken state", allegedly insulted officers and refused to identify himself before being arrested.

Official sources stated that the dog was an 80cm tall Spanish Mastiff weighing 50kg but local residents told regional daily El Periodico de Aragon that it was a Spanish Water Dog weighing no more than 11kg.

María del Pilar, who witnessed the incident, denied that the owner was drunk and said that the dog was behaving normally.

"I thought it had gone to sleep but something came flying past me and, when I went to pick it up, they told me it was a bullet casing."

"I didn't see the dog attack either policeman at any time," she added.

The police action and official statement quickly sparked a wave of protests on social media, leading to protests in Zaragoza at the scene of the shooting on Sunday afternoon.

"We think that the police acted disproportionately by shooting the dog," one protestor told reporters.

He added: "They could have used their batons or, if that wasn't enough, a tranquilizer gun."

Another protestor said: "This was not a potentially dangerous dog and we think that you can't fire a gun in a place where there are children."

An online video shows locals arguing with police and city workers as they attempt to put Lucky's body into black bin bags for removal.

City hall sources claimed that the dog had attacked three people before arriving at the park and that one of them had needed to use a chair to fend off the animal.

They also noted that the protest meeting was unauthorized and the necessary permission had not been obtained.

The story has refused to lie down and die. Regional representatives of the United Left (IU) party have now demanded an official investigation into the incident.

Raúl Ariza, a party spokesman, highlighted the factual discrepancies between police and witness statements and the use of firearms in front of the public, including many children.

He noted that details such as the identity of the people allegedly attacked by the dog should be presented to help determine whether or not the police action was justified and appropriate.

A campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #justiciaparaLucky is still active and an online petition calling on Zaragoza's mayor to open an investigation had attracted over 32,000 signatures at 4pm on Monday afternoon. 

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Spain’s Civil Guard police officers allowed to have visible tattoos

Spain on Monday relaxed its policy banning officers from the country's oldest police force, the Guardia Civil, from exhibiting tattoos.

civil guard spain gun
The increasing popularity of tattoos has led police forces around the world to regulate their use. Photo: Rafa Rivas/AFP

Officers will now be allowed to display tattoos anywhere on their bodies “as long as they do not contain expressions that violate constitutional values or harm the discipline or image of the force,” the interior minister said in a statement.

“For the first time visible tattoos will be allowed on uniformed officers,” it added.

On the other hand, the decree prohibits hoop earrings, spikes, plugs and other inserts when they are visible in uniform, “except regular earrings, for both male and female personnel”.

The Guardia Civil mainly patrols and investigates crimes in rural areas, while Spain’s National Police focuses on urban areas.

Last year Spain’s leftist government appointed a woman to head the force for the first time in its 177-year history.

The increasing popularity of tattoos has led police forces around the world to regulate their use.

Los Angeles police are required to ensure that tattoos are not visible to the public while on-duty, while France’s Gendarmes police force also requires that they be covered.