The Public Record: ​Animal Killings Continue to Dog the Buffalo Police

by / Nov. 15, 2017 1am EST

After Officer Craig Lehner’s tragic death in a police diving accident last month, his dog, Shield, has figured prominently in public mourning rituals. Shield appeared at a recent Buffalo Bills home game ceremony honoring Lehner, and BPD Commissioner Dan Derenda quipped at a news conference that his own 12-year-old daughter expressed interest in adopting the German shepherd. Fundraisers have been organized to help raise money for the Buffalo Police K-9 team.

Yet the sordid old news, when it comes to Buffalo police, is their penchant for killing dogs while executing search warrants. Between 2011 and 2014, 85 dogs were killed by the BPD, mostly while serving search warrants. A November 2014 report by Danny Spewak at WGRZ detailed the practice between 2011 and 2014, when Buffalo was outpacing much larger cities, including New York City, in the number of dogs killed in raids. One particular officer, not named in the WGRZ piece, narcotics detective Joseph Cook, was single-handedly responsible for more dog deaths than all the reported incidents in the New York City in 2011-2012 alone, according to WGRZ.

Attorney Matt Albert specializes in these cases, and has been collecting his own data, which he shared with The Public. Albert claims that he’s filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the BPD for updated data, but has not yet received that information. Further, Albert claims that he represents several clients whose incidents are not listed in the BPD’s official reports. “Those numbers are fudged, there’s no question about that,” he told us. Earlier this year, we reported on the details of one his cases: a drug raid in Kaisertown that netted trivial amounts of marijuana and cocaine and a family dog shot dead in front of a young child.

While none of the roughly 10 cases he’s working on involving dogs being shot by Buffalo police have reached disposition due to court delays, he’s won cases in other jurisdictions that paid out damages in the tens of thousands of dollars.

A month before the WGRZ report, BPD began redacting (or at least attempting to redact) information that identifies the officer who used lethal force. Reported incidents of dog slayings also decreased dramatically after the media report, signifying that either BPD made an effort to change or, as Albert suggests, to bury the facts with negligent filing.

The below list includes the date, breed, address, known circumstances, and listed officer involved in each dog shooting incident:

2011, 28 dogs killed

  1. 1/11/11; Pit Bull, 25 Houghton Street. Narcotics search, Det. Leo McGrath.

  2. 1/13/11; 12 Leamington Avenue. Narcotics search.

  3. ½6/11; Pit Bull, 291 West Avenue.  Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  4. ⅜/11; Pit Bull, 883 Eagle Street, C-District responding to call about aggressive dog. 3/26/11; Pit Bull, 1914 Genesee Street. SWAT search, Capt. Mark Maraschiello

  5. 4/7/11; Pit Bull, 25 Strauss Avenue. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  6. 4/8/11; 2 Pit Bulls; 96 Baynes Avenue. Narcotics search. 1 shot from Mossberg shotgun, killing one dog, wounding the other.

  7. 5/13/11; Pit Bull, 333 Breckenridge Avenue. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  8. 6/8/11; Pit Bull, 28 Kamper. Narcotics search, Det. Leo McGrath.

  9. 6/18/11; 28 Lisbon Avenue, service call.

  10. 6/22/11; 2 Pit Bulls, 167 Herkimer Avenue. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  11. 7/1/11; 2 Pit Bulls, 59 Cambridge Avenue. SWAT search. Three officers used four different weapons for 7 shots to kill both dogs.

  12. ⅞/11; Pit Bull, 101 Gatchell Street. Narcotics search warrant. Det. Leo McGrath.

  13. 9/18/11; Pit Bull, 32 School Street. Narcotics search warrant, Det. Joseph Cook.

  14. 10/10/11; 2 Pit Bulls; 543 West Utica Street. SWAT search, 3 rounds fired by two officers, Rinaldo and Maraschiello.

  15. 11/14/11; Pit Bull, 382 West Avenue. SWAT search.

  16. 11/15/11; Pit Bull, 19 Rommel. SWAT search.

  17. 11/19/11; Cane Corso, Walden and Latour. Service call for aggressive dog. 1 shot fired.

  18. 1½8/11; 2 Pit Bulls; 62 Pomona Street. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  19. 1⅓0/11; Mastiff; 54 Minton Street. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  20. 12/12/11; 2 Pit Bulls, 96 Howell Street.

  21. 12/14/11; Pit Bull, 257 Roslyn Street. Narcotics search, Det. Leo McGrath.

2012 — 18 dogs killed

  1. ½3/12; Pit Bull, 126 Playter Street, Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  2. ⅔/12; Pit Bull, 336 Riverside Avenue. SWAT search, Daniel Rinaldo

  3. 2/10/12; Pit Bull, 250 Richmond Avenue. Citizen flagged down officer about aggressive dog, Lt. Michael Quinn.

  4. 2/25/12; Mastiff, 187 Strauss Avenue. C-District saw dog attacking another dog.

  5. 3/1712; Pit Bull, 2242 Fillmore Avenue. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  6. 3/17/12; Pit Bull, 68 Wilson Street. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  7. 4/11/12, Put Bull-type, 371 14th Street. Narcotics search, Det. Leo McGrath.

  8. 4/22/12; 2 Pit Bull mixes, 399 Goethe Street. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  9. 4/25/12; Cane Corso, 62 Winslow Street. Narcotics search, Daniel Rinaldo

  10. 5/31/12; 2 Pit Bulls, 19 Oberlin Avenue. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  11. 8/20/12; Pit Bull mix, 340 Potomac Avenue. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.,

  12. 8/22/12; Pit Bull mix, 253 Rhode Island Avenue. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  13. 9/21/12; Pit Bull type, 143 Germain Avenue. Narcotics search (dog wounded), Raymond Krug.  

  14. 10/1/12; Bull Dog, 124 Folger Street. Narcotics search, Det. Leo McGrath.

  15. 10/13/12; Pit Bull, 43 Clay Street, Narcotics search (dog wounded), David Kolber.

  16. 1⅔/12; Pit Bull type, 181 Forest Avenue, Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  17. 12/10/12; Pit Bull, 908 Lafayette Avenue. Service call, PO Darwin Jones.

2013 — 20 dogs killed

  1. 1/13/13; Pit Bull, 1457 E. Delavan Street, service call. Lt. Rickey Lark.

  2. 1/14/13; Rottweiler, 98 Eller Avenue. SWAT search, Det. Brendan Kiefer.

  3. ½3/13; 2 Pit Bulls, 149 E. Delavan Street. E-District officers Mayhook and Myers assisting SPCA.

  4. 2/27/13; Mastiff, 342 Mackinaw Street. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  5. 3/23/13; German Shepherd, 516 Minnesota Avenue. SWAT search, Det. Kiefer and Delano.

  6. 4/3/13; Pit Bull, 161 Orange Street. SWAT raid, Det. Kiefer and PO Diaz both fired weapons.

  7. 5/16/13; Pit Bull, 230 W. Delavan. Narcotics search, Det. Leo McGrath.

  8. 6/3/13; Pit Bull type, 304 Breckenridge. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  9. 6/13/13; Pit Bull type, 546 E. Utica. SWAT search, Det. Brendan Kiefer.

  10. 7/23/13; 2 Pit Bull types, 53 Hinman Avenue. Narcotics search, Capt. Mark . Maraschiello.

  11. 8/28/13; 2 dogs, unspecified, 42 Ripley Place. SWAT search (both dogs shot, one was killed), Det. Kiefer.

  12. 9/10/12; Pit Bull, 127 Hewitt Street, E-District. Dog ran at and attacked officers.

  13. 11/11/13; Pit Bull, 102 Montana Street, SWAT search.

  14. 1½2/13; German Shepherd type, 550 Fulton Street. Narcotics search, Lt Sean O’Brien.

  15. 1½6/13; Pit Bull, 32 Sweeney Street. Narcotics search, Det. Shawn Adams.

  16. 12/13/13; Pit Bull, 72 Colorado Street. Narcotics search, Det. Brendan Kiefer.

  17. 12/20/13; 2 Pit Bulls, 176 Oakmont Street. Swat search, Lt. T. Leatherbarrow.

2014 — 19 dogs killed.

  1. —/—/14 (redacted); Pit Bull, 56 Theodore Street, SWAT search.

  2. 1/10/14; Pit Bull, 238 Bird Avenue. SWAT search, Det. Kiefer.

  3. 1/16/14; Pit Bull, 544 E. Utica Street. SWAT search, Det. Kiefer.

  4. ½6/14; 3 Pit Bulls, 65 Roslyn Street. SWAT search. PO Vernon Beaty, PO Chauncey White.

  5. ½7/14; (unspecified breed), 542 Grant Street. Vicious dog call. Lt. Michael March.

  6. 2/14/14; Pit Bull, 118 Elmer Avenue. SWAT search, Capt. Maraschiello.

  7. 4/8/14; Pit Bull, 236 Lovering Avenue. Narcotics search, Det. Leo Mcgrath.

  8. 4/25/14; Pit Bull, 269 Loring Avenue. SWAT search, Det. Kiefer. (Seven other pit bulls on property that were not injured.)

  9. 7/5/14; Pit Bull, 37 Kermit Avenue. SWAT search, PO Dolan, PO Gizzo, PO Beaty.

  10. 7/29/14; Pit Bull, 41 Lewis Street. Narcotics search, Det. Leo McGrath.

  11. 7/29/14; Pit Bull, 114 Edson Street (West Seneca). Narcotics search, Det. Shawn Adams.

  12. 10/15/14; breed unspecified, 129 Vermont Street. Narcotics search, redacted.

  13. 10/31/14; Pit Bull, 73 Poultney Avenue. SWAT search, redacted.

  14. 1¼/14; 2 Pit Bulls, 1812 Clinton Street. SWAT search, redacted.

  15. 1⅙/14; Pit Bull-type, address redacted. Service call, redacted.

  16. 1⅔0/14; Pit Bull 121 Riley Street. Narcotics search, redacted.

2015 — 6 dogs killed

  1. ½9/15; Rottweiler, 102 Wende Street. Narcotics search, Det. Joseph Cook.

  2. 4/23/15; (unspecified breed), 121 Benzinger Street. Narcotics raid, redacted.

  3. 6/12/15; Pit Bull, 76 Schutrum Street. SWAT, redacted.

  4. 6/29/15; Pit Bull, 129 Schiller Street. Narcotics search, Det. Adams.

  5. 7/21/15; Pit Bull, 440 Busti Avenue. Narcotics search, redacted.

  6. 7/21/15; Pit Bull-type, 213 Efner Avenue. Narcotics search, redacted.