The Puppycide Database Project has been closely following the fallout following the January 6th shooting of Autumn Mae Steele by Burlington Iowa cop Jesse Hill. Hill claims he was attempting to shoot the family dog Sammie when he opened fire and killed Steele in front of her four year old son.
In a shocking display of cruelty, the police imprisoned Sammie - who did not bite or injure anyone (witnesses described him as "playful"), while Officer Hill remains free. Meanwhile, the response from Amy Beavers, the prosecutor handling the case, has been dishonest and dismissive toward the Hill family.
The latest development in this troubled story was just what Burlington Iowa wanted to do with Sammie. Things were not looking good; his future was to be decided by an organization by the Burlington Animal Board. The Puppycide Database Project had previously published a number of concerns about the relationship between the Burlington Animal Board and the Burlington Police Department. The entire Animal Control Office (of which the Animal Board is a part) is overseen by Burlington Police Department Major Dennis Kramer.
Members of the Puppycide Database Project were not the only people concerned about the propriety of the proceedings. A petition demanding Sammie's release garnered over 18,000 signatures.
It was in this background that the Animal Board voted unanimously to release Sammie. Mark Cameron, the chairman of the Animal Board, had this to say:
"This board has determined the dog is not vicious. This decision is based on the evidence presented to the board tonight."
The Board heard from on-scene witness and Steele neighbor Ed Ranck:
"From my position, it didn't look like the dog (was attacking) the officer. I don't believe the dog is vicious [...] I didn't see the dog bite the officer. To me, it looked like he was playing [...] I don't think the dog was being aggressive."
The Board's decision represents a slim bit of good news for the Steele family in the midst of what has been an ongoing crisis. Steele's mother Gina Colbert traveled from Georgia to Iowa to attend the Board's hearing for Sammie, and expressed her exaustion to Burlington Iowa newspaper The Hawkeye:
"But I do know, enough is enough. We are a family in pain."