Feathered Bastard

Killing Bandit: The dumb Dog Days of AZ Summer, and the even dumber Sheriff Joe, aka, Sand Land's Deputy Dawg.

See, no one can kill dawgs in this here county but me!

What the eff is the matter with you people? Apparently the good citizens of AZ have sooooo much time on their hands and heat on their brains during the dog days of summer that they're ready storm the Bastille over the demise of this Belgian Malinois named Bandit. Bandit keeled over after Chandler police Sgt. Tom Lovejoy forgot the K-9 cop in his car during a sweltering Saturday. Now an army of village idiots wants to string the sergeant up by his heels a la Mussolini. Maricopa County's own Deputy Dawg, aka Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now sticking his snout into the mess, promising a criminal investigation. And dog-catcher in chief Candy Thomas wants to prosecute if need be, possibly for a Class VI Felony

Funny thing, but Arpaio wasn't calling for any investigation back in July of 2004 after his special forces overreacted while making a misdemeanor arrest of a suspect at an Ahwatukee home. The Sheriff's SWAT team shot tear gas into the house, the house caught on fire from a candle that'd been knocked over in the confusion, and when the owner's puppy tried to escape the fire, a member of SWAT shot the dog in the face with a fire extinguisher. The dog ran back inside and burned to death. You can read all about it in ace reporter John Dougherty's story Dog Day Afternoon.

"Arpaio's goons then left the dog's body to rot in the ashes for the next five days of 105-degree temperatures," wrote Dougherty. "A pall of death hung over the neighborhood. It was a putrid reminder of Arpaio's reckless use of force and callous disregard for the public's welfare. Not to mention the heinous treatment toward the terrified dog."

The D-man pointed out that Arpaio was a class-A hypocrite when it came to critters of the two or four-legged variety:

The really sick thing is that Arpaio has gotten huge publicity for his campaign against animal abuse. He's diverted scarce sheriff's office resources to duplicate services already provided by Maricopa County Animal Care and Control so that he can be seen as the ultimate animal protector.

Arpaio likes to brag that he spends more money feeding dogs and cats than he does feeding inmates. This, you see, makes him a tough guy, something voters in the past have dearly loved. There's story after story in the press featuring Arpaio boasting how he puts abused pets inside air-conditioned cells while inmates and pre-trial detainees are dangerously packed into stifling overcrowded cells, dormitories and tents.

The sheriff's office formed the Animal Cruelty Enforcement posse in the wake of the ritualistic slaying of several cats in the Ahwatukee area in 1998. As the cases of animal cruelty increased in number, Arpaio formed the Animal Cruelty Unit in January 2000.

According to the MCSO Web site, "This Unit responds to calls all over Maricopa County dealing with everything from complaints of no food and no water, to animals being starved, beaten, tortured, even killed by suspects."

Hey, Joe, what do you think about your SWAT team chasing the dog back into a burning house? Maybe your vaunted Animal Cruelty Unit should investigate the SWAT guys for contributing to the needless death of this animal.

Arpaio's gulags are often death traps for those accused of a crime and forced to inhabit them. Where's the public outrage whenever someone's beaten to death in Tent City or elsewhere, either by the race-based gangs that effectively run facilities like Tent City, or by the guards? Apparently in the Zona, pity is something reserved for pets. If the public got half as pissed at Arpaio's clownishness, his brutality towards those in his custody, the multimillion dollar wrongful death suits he regularly loses, and so on, Arpaio'd be an ex-cop by now. But you don't, he isn't, and plainly it's a doggone shame.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons