The Merrick County Facebook page released this statement:
“The Merrick County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a vicious dog complaint in the 1100 block of Valmont Street in Palmer, Merrick County. Subsequent investigation revealed that the animal was identified as a American Pit Bull Mix breed that allegedly maliciously attacked a minor child on a bicycle while riding on the public sidewalk. During the investigation, it was clearly determined that the dog in fact was unprovoked, attacked and bit the minor child causing injuries.
When the Deputy responded to the residence to locate an owner or responsible adult (which no one was present) the Deputy attempted to capture the animal for quarantine (to verify vaccination records), (which was later determined that the dog was NOT current on vaccinations) and the dog viciously attempted to attack the Deputy. The dog was put down safely to prevent any further attacks on law enforcement and/or the public.
The responsible parties were contacted and notified of the situation and the animal was properly disposed of at the request of the responding responsible parties.
The Village of Palmer has ordinances in place to prevent the citizens of the municipality from dangerous animals of this breed and have vaccination requirement guidelines. The State of Nebraska revised statutes has in place certain requirements for vicious animals.
Please review the following ordinances and statutes if you have any questions regarding the animal requirements.
Village of Palmer:
Section 3-201, 3-203, 3-204 (Animal License), 3-212, 3-213 (Dangerous or Vicious Dog; Definition), 3-214 (Dangerous or Vicious Dog; Notice; Procedure), 3-215 (Dangerous or Vicious Dog; Restraint Required), 3-216 (Dangerous or Vicious Dog; Confinement Required; Warning Signs), 3-217(Dangerous or Vicious Dog; Liability Insurance), 3-218 (Dangerous or Vicious Dog; Prohibited Acts) 3-219 (Confiscation, Destruction of Dog), 3-220 (Pit Bulls; Prohibited), 3-221 (Pit Bull; Definitions), 3-222, 3-224 (Pit Bulls; Confined or Leashed), 3-226 (Pit Bulls; Signs), 3-227 (Pit Bull; Impoundment), 3-228, 3-229, 3-330, 3-321 (Rabies Suspected; Impoundment), 3-232 (Rabid Animals; Capture Impossible)
State of Nebraska (Revised Statutes):
Revised Statute 54-617 (Dangerous Dog; terms, defined), 54-618 (Dangerous Dogs; actions required; costs; limitations on transport; permanent relocation; procedure), 54-619 (Dangerous Dogs; Confinement required; warning signs), 54-620 (Dangerous Dogs; Confiscated; when; costs), 54-622.01 (Dangerous Dogs; Serious Bodily Injury; Penalty; Defense).
This case is currently under investigation.
The goal of the Sheriff’s Office is to provide our citizens a general view of the services we provide, provide information on reduction of crime and protection, provide statistics of crimes in our county, and post current events/news activities throughout our local communities and national events.”
The owner’s account differs significantly. She was never given a chance to defend her dog, Sophie, who was on her tether in her own yard, a fact that was omitted from the official statement. The little boy had been interacting with her son that same day and there had been no problems with the dog. According to the officer, the chained up dog was a deadly threat to him because she was growling and had her hackles up. Proper protocol was not followed in this case. She was never contacted about the incident. When Lindenklaus arrived on the scene he told the family of the allegedly bitten child to go into their home because he was going to kill the dog. Family members arrived home from running an errand and found their dog lying in a pool of blood. Lindenklaus “cleaned up” the scene and took the dog’s body and threw it in the trash.
Several protocols were violated here. First and foremost was the violation of the Fourth Amendment. The dog was taken from the family with no warrant and no chance for them to even investigate what had happened. Then the crime scene was tampered with by the same person who trespassed on their property and killed their dog. Naturally they claim that no protocols were violated and that it was a clean shoot.
Local news station http://www.nbcneb.com interviewed the owner.
“I have to explain to my child why I can’t bring the dog home, and I have to explain to my daughter why she can’t sleep with this dog every night that she sleeps with,” said Rachael Dubbs.
According to witnesses the child ran into the dog with his bicycle. The child’s family did not seek medical attention. The Sheriff’s department says there is no evidence that the boy ran over the dog and his family says that didn’t happen. Lindeklaus’s superior officer Kevin Campbell described the situtation thus:
“The dog’s hair was raised up, the tail was tucked between it’s [sic] legs. it was barking and growling as it kept lunging at the deputy. The deputy tried to turn to walk away a couple of times, and on the third attempt the dog was very close, and he had to discharge his firearm to protect himself and the rest of the public. He did it the second time to make sure the dog did not suffer.”
“How many people would have been up in arms screaming because this dog just killed someone,” Sheriff Campbell added. “If we would have left, potentially that’s exactly what would have happened.”
NBCNeb says with no animal control in Merrick County, state statute dictates that local law enforcement is in charge of situations like this.
One local animal control center, the Central Nebraska Humane Society, said they would have been happy to help if they had been called, even though that’s not required by law.
Especially because this dog was adopted from them.
“It’s devastating,” said Laurie Dethloff, the Executive Director at CNHS. “We work really hard to make sure everybody’s very healthy and has the appropriate behavior when they’re adopted from us, and as a young pup, there are plenty of things that they’re still learning that could have triggered a not-so-severe issue or a very severe issue.”
Dubbs has requested an investigation. She asked to see the body cam footage but was told she was not allowed to see it because it is evidence. Campbell also reported that “a couple other people” had called and reported similar incidents with the dog, but so far there is no evidence of those calls.
According to Sheriff Campbell, Lindenklaus has received threats on their facebook page, which have since been removed. “They’re saying that they’re willing to do it, are they actually?” Sheriff Campbell questioned. “Do I have to worry about my family, does he have to worry about his family because now they’re going to be targets too? That’s questions that we in law enforcement think about anyway, but it’s definitely heightened when you have someone publicly saying that.”
He said of the posts being removed, “We screenshotted it, we saved it so State Patrol could have it because we do take that very seriously….It’s sickening to think about.”
The Merrick County Sheriff’s department does not exactly have a stellar reputation. According to the Grand Island Independent the issue of the $5,891 missing from the Merrick County Sheriff’s Department office since a 2012 audit continues to haunt that county. Lori Sautter, a former employee who was tried for theft and found not guilty, announced in a news conference that she has filed suit against Sheriff Kevin Campbell.
Also in 2012, according to the Grand Island Independent, Merrick County Sheriff Kevin Campbell acknowledged in a settlement released on Friday that he hired his wife part time in August 2011 and was employing her full time by August 2012. Campbell was fined by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission for not filing a disclosure notice with the county clerk. The commission says he also failed to advertise the job as required when it became a full-time position.
A confidential source with inside knowledge of the department alleges that Lindenklaus has a history of criminal acts against the people of Merrick County. He has been reported to the sheriff on past occasions but nothing has been done to stop him.
Dozens of pages on Facebook are dedicated to bringing this abuse to light and changing laws so that law enforcement will have to answer for shooting dogs. An advocate group, Freeze Don’t Shoot has been helping victims of dogs shot by cops for the last year. They provide support and counseling for the victims, set up and run Facebook pages asking for justice, and direct them to professional legal help in a variety of ways. The organization has been fighting valiantly for these dogs. They report that it is very difficult to get the general public to even believe that this happens, much less that it happens so often. The group estimates that a dog is shot by law enforcement once every 56 minutes. Put “justice for” or “justice 4” into a Facebook search and literally hundreds of such pages pop up. The cops who do the shootings are almost never punished or held accountable in any way.
The group has set up a justice page for Sophie which garnered over three hundred likes within twenty-four hours. The outrage is not limited to the denizens of Merrick County.