Police Officers in Oklahoma visited a home to issue a warrant but instead ended up killing a 5-year old’s beloved dog and best friend during his birthday party.

The officer claims the dog lunged at him through a fence, requiring him to pull his service weapon and shoot the dog in self-defense. The shot penetrated the head of Opie, the family dog, leaving him gasping for air. The officer returned to the scene seconds later with a high-power rifle he retrieved from his cruiser and fired two more shots to put the dog down, all while party-goers, mostly children, watched in horror.

Opie was a three-year-old American bulldog and pit bull mix. To many whose only experience with pit bulls is watching them maul unsuspecting victims in movies, or those who have false perceptions that the breed’s only purpose is to be trained to fight, Opie may have seemed to be a ferocious dog. But most pit bulls — including Opie — are sweet and gentle family pets, and even best friends to children.

Over the last year we have read about countless dogs shot by police officers who claim they felt threatened and their only recourse was gunfire. Upwards of 47% of households visited by police contain a dog, according to the ASPCA, yet the officers are woefully undertrained in handling the animals. Tragically, this results in far too many killings of innocent dogs. In fact, an estimated 50% of police shootings involves a dog.

Training police officers in how to approach and handle animals would decrease much of this unnecessary violence. Passing a law that penalizes officers for harming and killing animals would also contribute to a reduction in the lethal force used against these animals. It’s time that we each do our part and help put an end to these senseless killings. Please sign the petition to help pass legislation and get our law enforcement trained on how to handle our pets.