SHELBY, Ohio (WJW) — The Shelby Police Department is holding a press conference to address a video that was shared on social media depicting an officer running over a raccoon in his cruiser.
According to Shelby police, the department received two calls about a sick or rabid raccoon in the roadway on Second Street from area residents on Wednesday evening.
Police say one caller was concerned that children were messing with the raccoon and could get bitten.
Upon arrival, the responding officer observed that the raccoon, who was staggering in the roadway, was clearly sick or injured. He reportedly decided the animal needed "to be destroyed" and, due to the time of day and being in a residential area, he did not feel it was safe to destroy the animal using his firearm.
Officials say there isn't an animal control department in the city of Shelby or in Richland County, adding that they do not have "the training or equipment to capture a potentially rabid animal, that would ultimately need to be destroyed regardless."
Police say the officer made a judgement call and decided to destroy the raccoon using his vehicle.
They acknowledge that the actions in the video are unpleasant to watch. But also say the officer chose to side with public safety and destroy the animal, which could be dangerous to the public — especially children, as quickly as possible and without endangering the community.
The raccoon has since been picked up by the Shelby Fire Department and has been properly disposed of. Police are currently working with the Shelby Health Department to determine if testing can be done to learn if the animal was sick.
Shelby police say that in the past year they have responded to eight animal bites and over 140 animal calls, however in very few cases they are forced to destroy animals.
As a result of this incident, Shelby Police Department will be reviewing its policy and training and will be meeting with the law director Thursday morning to review this incident completely.