Target: New York Police Department
Goal: Drop charges against woman who called 911 to save abandoned puppy
A dog-lover in Staten Island is facing four charges after calling 911 when she saw a baby pit bull near a train trestle. Candice Salvatore claims that she was just trying to do the right thing but the police say she recklessly endangered members of her force. No matter how the events transpired, Ms. Salvatore should not be punished for trying to save the animal’s life. Tell the N.Y.P.D. to drop the charges and put forth clear instructions on how to respond to issues of animal endangerment.
When Candice Salvatore saw an emaciated pit bull puppy near some abandoned train tracks near her house, she did what she thought was right: she called 311 to try to get in contact with Animal Care and Control. Ms. Salvatore claims that the 311 operator hung up, although 311 says that it did transfer her to Animal Care and Control. Ms. Salvatore then tried calling the police department directly but again claims she was hung up on. Left with what she saw as no other options, she called 911 and reported an abandoned baby. When police arrived and saw that she was talking about a pit bull baby, they claim that she said she needed to “spice things up” to get their attention and then cited her with two misdemeanors, second-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree falsely reporting an incident. Ms. Salvatore says that the officers put words in her mouth and that when a police dispatcher called her back, she told them it was not a human baby but a pit bull puppy. She says she had no intention of having officers risk an auto accident because of her report.
Despite any conflicting reports, Ms. Salvatore’s actions should not be demonized or punished. There is evidence to suggest that she made a clear attempt at contacting other sources before resorting to calling 911. Just because the police department does not share her enthusiastic compassion for animal life does not mean she should be punished for it. When she thought she wasn’t getting the response she needed from other sources, she used 911 to report what she considered to be an emergency. If the N.Y.P.D. insists on using 911 only for human emergencies, then there needs to be a reliable and clear resource for those who consider animal emergencies just as dire. The police department needs to make citizens aware of the proper steps that need to be taken as well as assure them that their claim will be responded to responsibly and quickly. Punishing Ms. Salvatore sends a message that animal welfare claims are of lesser concern and will not be taken seriously. The charges should be dropped and a clear message should be sent.
Dear Deputy Inspector John Sprague, 120th Precinct,
When Ms. Salvatore called 911 to report an abandoned baby pit bull nearby her house, she was responding to what she considered an emergency. Evidence suggests that Ms. Salvatore did her best to try other outlets, such as 311 and the police department, before calling 911, but was simply not getting the response she saw fit for the situation. With that in mind, your decision to charge her with four different offenses is exorbitant and sends the complete wrong message to the citizens of Staten Island. There are many people in the world who would consider animal emergencies just as dire as human ones and would react the same way that Ms. Salvatore did. If someone were to witness an animal being abused in a way that threatened its life, would they not be able to call 911? Ms. Salvatore witnessed a crisis and after trying her best to resolve it in another way, she called what is nationally recognized as the crisis hotline.
If the N.Y.P.D. wishes to delegate all non-human emergencies to a resource other than 911 or feels that officers should not have to risk their lives responding to animal emergencies, that is understandable. But a reliable resource is needed, one that people can feel assured will respond to their reports in a timely and responsible manner. Please take the time to inform citizens on the correct procedure to follow in these situations rather than punish Ms. Salvatore with frivolous charges. By doing so, you dissuade the people of New York from responding to animal welfare emergencies. Ms. Salvatore was only doing what she thought was right and in no way did she mean to put anyone in danger. Please reconsider the charges against her.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: miggslives via Wikimedia Commons