BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two officers now face felony animal cruelty charges that carry jail time for their role in the killing of a Shar Pei named Nala. It comes two weeks after the incident, which has generated outrage worldwide.
Mike Hellgren reports from Southeast Baltimore, where Nala took her last breaths.
It is rare for an officer to face criminal charges in relation to animal cruelty. Police have condemned what happened. These new charges against an officer who held the dog down were not brought by them, but by the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Now two Baltimore City officers, Jeffrey Bolger and Thomas Schmidt, face time behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines for their roles in the brutal death of a 7-year-old Shar Pei named Nala.
Reporter: “Do you think either of these officers should do jail time for this?”
Nala’s Owner: “Yes, I think they both should.”
Nala’s owner, Sarah Gossard, says her dog got loose on June 14. Several blocks from her home, police say the dog nipped a woman who was trying to rescue her. Officers were called and ended up cornering Nala on South Grundy Street.
“She didn’t attack anyone that day. She was just lost and scared,” said Gossard.
Nala was killed in a vacant lot. According to charging documents, Officer Schmidt was trying to restrain her with a special pole. That didn’t work, so he held her down while those documents say Officer Bolger slit her throat.
“She must have been terrified. There were two big men holding her down. It makes me feel ill to think about her last, final moments here,” said Gossard.
Police say they have no evidence the dog showed any aggression. They brought the charges against Bolger the day after the incident. The charges against Schmidt are new and come from the State’s Attorney Office.
“This incident, as we know it right now, is an egregious incident that we will not condone or tolerate,” said Dep. Commissioner Dean Palmere, Baltimore City Police Department.
“The department has gone to great lengths to provide officers with tools other than this type of behavior,” said Dep. Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez, Baltimore City Police Department.
Officers Schmidt and Bolger each have more than 20 years of experience. They are free awaiting trial.
“These two guys, if you see them, they look like bigger men. She was 38 pounds. It just seems like a bully move to me,” Gossard said.
Both men have not spoken publicly about the case. These are charges and they have not been found guilty.
“It’s just disgusting and disturbing and I don’t think they should have those jobs trying to keep the community safe when they respond like that,” Gossard said.
Police say they have provided extensive education of officers and new equipment to humanely deal with animals, but there have been several high-profile incidents in recent weeks.
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