Following a spate of highly publicized and controversial killings of family pets by Round Rock Texas Police Department officers, Round Rock Animal Control and the police have started what they are calling a "community-based initiative" called B.A.R.K. or Be Aware of Residential K9s.
Round Rock residents are being asked to place a sticker on the threshold of their door in order to "[alert] emergency service personnel of their household pets when responding to calls for service". The City of Round Rock's website further described:
"The BARK Alert sticker is available to the public at the Police Department lobby, during pet vaccination clinics conducted by local veterinarians and Round Rock Animal Control, community events, upon animal registration as required by City Ordinance, and from any Animal Control Officer."
While the Puppycide Database Project retains records of the presence of "Beware of Dog" and similar signs at homes involved in use of deadly force incidents, this information is drastically under-reported by both media coverage and police reports. Our research has uncovered 58 shootings of pets wherea sign was present. 739 records we have collected from news stories, police reports, court documents and police disciplinary records do not include a reference to the presence or absence of a "Beware of Dog" or other sign.
With this data lacking, the Round Rock BARK program represents a rare opportunity to determine the efficacy of prior notification of the presence of animals in preventing use of lethal force. Will BARK actually reduce the number of pets killed by Round Rock police, or will this provide Round Rock with the positive publicity it needs to float past shootings of 2014 without introducing serious reform or accountability?