Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Hundreds rally over killing of Geist the dog by Salt Lake police
Safety » They want officer to be disciplined and police to be trained on pets.
First Published Jun 28 2014 04:41 pm • Last Updated Jun 30 2014 08:09 am

Hundreds of people and pets rallied outside Salt Lake City police headquarters on Saturday, sympathizing with dog owner Sean Kendall and calling for accountability from the department and the officer who fatally shot Kendall’s Weimaraner.

"It’s overwhelming, the support of the community," Kendall said. "That makes the loss of my best friend a little bit easier to deal with."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Officer Brett Olsen shot the dog, named Geist, in Kendall’s fenced-in backyard on June 18 as police searched for a missing 3-year-old boy who was later found. Police have said Olsen used lethal force because he felt threatened by the dog. The incident is being investigated by the department.

Two-legged and four-legged demonstrators gathered near the street, holding signs that said, "Justice for Geist," "Man’s best friend should not be gunned down," and "My pets are my family."

Chief Chris Burbank said Friday he was concerned about escalating threats against Olsen and the department, including death threats. But the demonstration continued for hours without incident as officers on bicycles quietly watched from a distance.

The shooting ignited controversy and national discussion about how law enforcement handles pets that act aggressively. The rally was organized by dog owners touched by Kendall’s plight and advertised through a Facebook group and word of mouth.

Rally attendees said they would like to see some kind of discipline for the officer but said they are more concerned about whether officers are getting proper training on how to control pets without using a firearm.

Keri Bogardus, a Millcreek-area veterinarian and owner of three dogs, said she hopes the incident inspires police to find peaceful resolutions for such situations. She suggested the department could ask for volunteers from the community to help train officers.

"I handle a lot of what you might call aggressive dogs for my job, and there’s a lot of different things you can do to calm them down," she said. "They can get protective in their own space when a stranger comes, but there’s no reason that something like this should happen."

Most demonstrators said they were disappointed by those who had written threats to police, saying it detracted from their cause. Kristen Jolley, a Sandy resident, was raised by a mother who was a cop, and her brother-in-law is a police officer.

story continues below
story continues below

She carried a sign that read "I love cops (but not Olsen)."

"I think it’s unfair that people generalize about police because one guy does something wrong," she said. "But I also think it’s not right for people to say we should just support him and we can’t call him out because he’s a cop."

Olsen was identified as the shooter by the department on Friday. He was one of the officers involved in taking down a gunman at Trolley Square Mall in 2007. He will remain on duty while being investigated.

Kendall said he and 2-year-old Geist had birthdays days apart in February and celebrated with a joint party. When Kendall was hiking or biking, Geist trotted along nearby, and the dog used to sneak into Kendall’s bed at night.

He said he thinks Olsen deserves to be fired over the incident, a sentiment shared by many rally attendees. But others said Olsen was guilty of "a mistake," and an apology, internal discipline and department policy changes would satisfy them.

"I don’t think he should lose his job," said Kearns resident Souri Keochaleun, his dog Tofu cradled in his arms. "But we definitely think this is unjust, and it shouldn’t happen again."


Twitter: @kylegoon

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.