Despite the antagonism that is sparked between police departments and animal-welfare advocates in the aftermath of a highly publicized shooting of an animal by a police officer, both camps typically agree on at least one thing: that additional training for police officers is the solution to puppycide.
The actual training is provided by a small number of firms and organizations. Some, such as the nonprofit National Canine Research Council, provide videos and supplemental materials to police at no charge. Hands-on training, however, is typically provided by for-profit trainers. For years, the public face of for-profit dog encounter trainers for police has been Jim Osorio, the president of Canine Encounters Law Enforcement Training (CELET) since its inception in 2005. Osorio has been frequently interviewed in news stories reporting on police shootings of animals, and last year Osorio claimed in a press release that CELET had trained some 18,500 police officers across the country.
Despite the firm's public influence and outward success, a series of recent events have shined a spotlight on trouble within CELET.
Jim Osorio's struggle with Stage 3 Kidney disease was made public by a GoFundMe page designed to raise funds for his medical treatment. Following this revelation, the front page of CELET's website was replaced with an "Under Construction" image, followed by a brief statement with an explosive statement, signed by CELET executive Mark Matthews.
The first part of the statement states that Matthews has purchased Osorio's share of CELET, making Matthews CELET's sole owner. Osorio's illness is attributed as the cause for his resignation.
The second part of Matthews' statement is more explosive:
On another note our POS accountants Jose and Maria Martinez of Fort Worth, Texas has stolen our identity and also our customers information, I have posted a link below on our website a claims form for anyone that may have been affected by these two POS individuals.
This accusation is followed by a claims form that allows cardholders to dispute transactions received from Canine Encounters - either through CELET or its credit card payment process, Square.Com.
CELET's customers are almost exclusively law enforcement agencies; if Matthews' allegations are true, it would represent a litany of federal crimes. The Matthews statement, however, is completely unsubstantiated and at this time Puppycide Database Project was unable to identify the individuals named in Matthew's statement. If you are or know Jose and Maria Martinez of Fort Worth, Texas please contact us.
It is unclear if CELET will be able to continue providing canine encounter training in light of these events. Puppycide Database Project will continue to report on the situation and followup as new information becomes available.
Despite the popularity of canine encounter training among law enforcement officials and activists, its efficacy remains unproven. It remains completely unclear what effect - if any - canine encounter training has on the number of dogs gunned down by police. There are no national standards for canine encounter training.
Jim Osorio himself was a controversial figure long before recent events. In 2007, Osorio was suspended from the Morris County New Jersey SPCA after he accidentally shot himself in the leg. A news report of the suspension reported concern that Osorio may not have had a concealed carry permit for the firearm that Osorio injured himself with at the time of the incident. Osorio's shooting of himself coincided with an animal cruelty complaint brought by Osorio in regard to a 14 year old dog named Bobby Joe who was ultimately euthanized on Osorio's recommendation. Osorio failed to appear at two scheduled hearings related to the complaint (the second FTA occurred on the same day as Osorio's self-shooting). More concerning, Osorio claimed that the decision to euthanize Bobby Joe was only made after consulting with Morris County Asst. Prosecutor Brian DiGiacomo and after Bobby Jo had been examined by veterinarian David Howard. When questioned, Howard stated that he was never given an opportunity to examine Bobby Jo. Instead, Howard was only shown pictures of a dog who was old and skinny but not necessarily requiring euthanization.