Shelby police: Vehicles will not be used to euthanize animals; Officials will determine if criminal charges are appropriate

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SHELBY, Ohio (WJW) — The Shelby Police Department is investigating an incident involving an officer destroying a potentially rabid or sick raccoon with his police cruiser.

This comes after video of the incident was shared on social media.

The department says they received two calls about a sick or rabid raccoon in the roadway on Second Street from area residents on Wednesday evening.

Upon arrival, the responding officer saw the animal was clearly sick or injured and 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.  The officer made a judgement call and decided to destroy the raccoon using his vehicle.

The raccoon was properly disposed of.  The Shelby Health Department is testing to determine if the animal was sick.

At a press conference Friday, Shelby Police Chief Lance Combs announced that an outside agency, along with a prosecutor, is conducting an investigation into the incident.  These officials will determine if any criminal charges are appropriate.

He also said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has determined the incident did not violate any wildlife laws.

Additionally, the police department is conducting an internal investigation.  Combs has reached out to animal control officials and the department will undergo new training on animal behavior.

He said, effective immediately, vehicles will not be used to euthanize animals. He has ordered snares, which will be provided to each officer, to be used when a sick or rabid animal needs to be put down and discharging a firearm is not a safe option.  A training will be conducted on how to properly use these snares.

"We can always do better," Combs said.  Adding that he is not going to make a judgement on an officer's decisions to destroy a potentially sick or dangerous animal, but acknowledges that they can learn from this incident and work to do better in the future.

Continuing coverage, here.

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