Warning: The images in the video may be considered graphic.
GATINEAU, Que. – Two dead Canadian cattle, bovines brought down by a
barrage of police bullets, are attracting a wave of international
sympathy in the wake of their violent demise.
Supporters from around the world have expressed outrage in online forums like YouTube and the website of a British newspaper.
than 157,000 people have seen the YouTube video of their killing by
police officers last week in Gatineau, Que., with thousands more
clicking by the hour. A story Monday on the website of Britain’s Daily
Mail was titled: Don’t Moooove, or I’ll Shoot!
deaths have prompted a letter-writing campaign, organized by an
animal-rights group, that targets the Gatineau police force.
The woman who created the campaign said she had mixed reactions upon seeing the video.
some sense it’s shocking footage — it’s horrible, you hear the person
who was recording it and the shock of her voice as well,” said Twyla
Francois, head of investigation for Canadians for Ethical Treatment of
“But in another way it wasn’t shocking because this really represents what we’ve been finding in our investigations.”
cattle were already destined for the slaughterhouse when they escaped
from a trailer last Thursday. They subsequently began stomping around,
leading police on a chase near rural Highway 148.
Video of the
incident shows police cars, their lights and sirens going, chasing and
then surrounding one of the animals. Officers fired at least 10 shots
from close range at one steer.
A police officer can be heard
firing six initial shots, slowing the animal down before officers
scamper to their cars to cut off its escape.
An officer then fires four more times as that same steer limps away. Both animals were shot dead.
Part of the scene was recorded by horrified witnesses. One can be overheard swearing in disbelief at the events unfolding.
“What are they shooting it for?” one witness is overheard asking. “That’s not really a gun, is it?”
the Internet, many are chiding Gatineau police for excessive cruelty
and a lack of compassion toward the animals. While some sprang to the
police’s defence, most expressed shock.
One sarcastic Daily Mail
reader commented: “That vicous (sic) cow! With sirens, lights, people,
and chaos! I bet it was a serious threat! I’m so glad you big strong
men saved us all from that cow! Cows are kown (sic) for their killing
sprees thank god you saved humanity! … IDIOTS with GUNS!!!!!!”
Another wrote: “Makes me sick to my stomach and want to cry. I just don’t understand human beings.”
Gatineau police have defended their actions, saying the animals posed a risk to the public and there was no choice but to shoot.
determined the bull was really aggressive and he was a threat for the
population,” said Const. Pierre Lanthier, a police spokesman.
“They tried to bring the animal back into the trailer with the help of the owner but it was impossible.”
said the animals rushed at police cruisers on a couple of occasions
and, as they neared an elementary school, the cattle owner had given
police permission to shoot.
Lanthier said some police cars are equipped with rifles, but none of the officers on duty had access to one.
The officers tried to contact Quebec wildlife officials, but were informed they didn’t deal with that kind of animal.
Gatineau police said Monday that they have no plans to train officers to use tranquilizer guns.
“That’s why we had to do it by ourselves and a police officer had to take a decision and kill the beast,” Lanthier said.
As in any case when a firearm is discharged, an administrative review will take place, Lanthier said.
CETFA says it’s hard to believe that domesticated cattle could have produced such a threat.
a statement on the group’s website urging people write letters to
Gatineau police chief Mario Harel, CETFA said: “Had these officers
shown this same treatment to a dog, they would be facing animal cruelty
Francois’ non-profit group monitors the treatment of animals raised for the purpose of food.
says Canada lags behind when it comes to having proper training and
protocols for people who transport animals. Ottawa has promised new
rules for six years, but has yet to follow through.
“If we had a
proper training program for our livestock haulers, which they do in
Europe … this wouldn’t have become an issue of public safety,”
Francois said in an interview from Winnipeg.
“That driver would have known the behaviour of that cow and how to round him up again.”
to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version cited
previous reports that the animals killed were cows, but the Gatineau
police and CETFA say they were actually steer.