PETA urging followers to speak out at Salisbury City Council meeting

PETA urging followers to speak out at Salisbury City Council meeting
Salisbury Police provided this picture of Zuul recently, saying he "is in good hands, happy and healthy, and taking some time off." (Source: Salisbury Police)

SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is urging people to speak out at Tuesday’s meeting of the Salisbury City Council. The group says it wants answers regarding the incident involving a Salisbury police officer and his police K-9.

“In 2021, a police department that covers up for one of its own instead of charging him with a violation of state law for inflicting physical abuse on a trusting dog who serves this community should not operate a K-9 unit,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “The community deserves action and answers, including regarding why some elected officials have apparently known about the video for several months but have yet to take action.”

A leaked video of the incident appears to show the officer lifting the dog off the ground by his leash and collar, putting the dog in a choke hold, slamming the dog against the side of a patrol vehicle, then striking the dog once it is inside the vehicle.

The dog, Zuul, was taken to a veterinarian and is said to be fine, according to police.

Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes held a press conference on March 2 after the video was released to media outlets.

“The health and safety and well-being of Salisbury Police officers, both human and K-9, is our top priority,” Stokes said. “The Salisbury Police Department is aware of a video that has been provided to the media that depicts a Salisbury officer during a K-9 training, but we cannot comment on the details because it is an ongoing personnel matter.”

“SPD can confirm that as a matter of course, the officer has been administratively separated from the K-9 while SPD conducts the review,” Chief Stokes said.

Chief Stokes requested that the public draw no conclusion until the internal review of the matter is finished.

“We cannot comment further regarding the officer because it is an ongoing personnel matter. When we are able to release information to the public we will, within legal limits,” said a post on the department social media page,

Salisbury Mayor pro-tem Al Heggins urged the city to release more information to the public about the investigation, telling WBTV “We have to move forward and the best way that we can is by sharing as much information as we legally can in order to maintain this public trust and confidence.”

Heggins said she believes it’s important in helping maintain trust with police.

“We have a great police department.” Heggins said. “Yes, we’ve seen something disturbing, we have comments that are very disturbing, and we don’t want anyone to think that it represents the entire Salisbury Police Department.”

On March 6, WBTV submitted several questions about the incident to the City of Salisbury, asking for the name of the officer involved, what disciplinary action was taken, when the incident occurred, when Zuul was taken to the veterinarian, and when the city council was made aware of the incident. So far, there has been no response.

The Salisbury City Council meets virtually Tuesday night at 6:00 pm. People can view the livestream at salisburync.gov/webcast or the city’s Twitter account at twitter.com/CitySalisburyNC. People can also tune in by calling 312-626-6799 or 646-876-9923 or 346-248-7799, with meeting ID 83906293190 and passcode 321047.

Anyone who wishes to speak during the public comment must sign up by 5 pm Tuesday by contacting City Clerk Kelly Baker at kbake@salisburync.gov or 704-638-5233.

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