By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The case of Nala, the Shar Pei whose throat was slit, has gotten worldwide attention.

But it’s not the first time an encounter between an officer and an animal in Maryland has gotten widespread attention. That often leads to changes in training.

Mike Hellgren has more on the impact of this high-profile case.

Baltimore City Police Officer Jeffrey Bolger, who faces animal cruelty charges for using a knife to cut the throat of a Shar Pei named Nala, is getting slammed. Some online have even threatened his life.

The case is extreme and has generated passion and concern among dog owners.

“It’s absolutely terrible. It makes me sick to my stomach to hear something like that. If the animal was dangerous, there are much more humane ways to put a dog down,” said Andrew Pappas, dog owner.

Police have promised a full investigation. They suspended a second officer, Thomas Schmidt, who is accused of holding Nala down while Bolger cut her throat.

“It’s a very good sign that the police themselves have recognized this as outrageous and unacceptable… to use their words,” said Aileen Gabbey, Maryland SPCA. “The police are taking this seriously, which is positive.”

Similar Maryland cases have generated outrage nationwide too, including when a SWAT team killed labs belonging to the mayor of Berwyn Heights. It also happened earlier this year, when an officer shot a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Vern in Anne Arundel County.

An investigation, completed this week, revealed it was justified, but the family is disappointed.

“He says, ‘I’m really, really sorry. I just had to shoot him.’ And I’m like, ‘You didn’t have to,'” said Vern’s owner, Mike Reeves.

Anne Arundel’s police chief upgraded equipment and training in the wake of Vern’s death, including requiring internal affairs respond when any domesticated animal is shot.

“Protocols always need to be revised. Any business or agency always needs to look at new, better ways to do things,” said Gabbey.

And now, the spotlight is on Baltimore, with many vowing to make sure that, in Nala’s case, justice is served.

“To slit a dog’s throat while another person is holding it is terrible,” Pappas said.

Bolger was suspended without pay. He now faces jail time and a fine.

Bolger is scheduled to be in court July 28.

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