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"Puppycide by Gavel: How the Judiciary Uses the Police Killing of Dogs to Reinforce Justifications for Police Violence" (by Jeremy Smith): Review 4

Published onFeb 07, 2024
"Puppycide by Gavel: How the Judiciary Uses the Police Killing of Dogs to Reinforce Justifications for Police Violence" (by Jeremy Smith): Review 4

Vote: Publish pending minor edits.

I find this to be a smart read that puts the real-life events of canicide into conversation with academics and, more thoroughly, legal scholarship via a detailed reading of the Battle Creek case and surrounding law. None of the article is overly burdened with academic-speak, nor is it overly sensational. Rather, it is a smart piece with a great tone and well-written. I enjoyed and learned from this, and I am sure others will.

Here are a few issues that jumped to my mind, given my personal and academic interests.

  1. As one of the only sociological articles to ever use the term and explore the context of “canicide,” I think a citation early on of our work would be in order. Right now, the first mention of the term refers to “commentators.” I would add commentators and scholars, with the “scholars” linked to our formative work, which is referenced far later in the paper.

Bloch, Stefano, and Daniel E. Martínez. "Canicide by cop: A geographical analysis of canine killings by police in Los Angeles." Geoforum 111 (2020): 142-154.

  1. “... uses canicide (the police killing of dogs) to... “

This implies the term canicide refers to the police killing of dogs, specifically. But it is any killing of dogs, so it would be better to write something like “canicide (the killing of dogs, in this case by police)...”

  1. Where paramilitarism is mentioned along with the work by Balko, I am surprised not to see rea ference to the work of Delehanty et al (2017), who show that officers from police agencies that received the most transfers from the 1033 program (military surplus to police forces) killed dogs at a higher rate than those that received no transfers. I think it is worth a citation since it is one of the only social scientific articles that deal explicitly with Canicide in this way in addition to ours.

Delehanty, C., Mewhirter, J., Welch, R., & Wilks, J. (2017). Militarization and police violence: The case of the 1033 program. Research & politics4(2).

  1. “Whites repackaged the institution of slavery as Jim Crow which was itself repackaged after the Brown v Board of Education (1955) decision as mass incarceration (Alexander, 2012).”

This is somewhat anachronistic (mass incarceration, for example, not starting until almost two decades after Brown v.) and lacks nuance but is a truism that will not raise eyebrows. For me, it is a bit... lacking. But for this type of public-facing article, it is fine, I suppose, so never mind.

  1. In the body of the text, where the author currently cites our work (Bloch and Martinez), providing this link to a public-facing version of the article may be helpful as well, especially since it is not behind a paywall:

Overall, this is smart, accessible, yet in-depth scholarship. It needs to be in print and with only the slightest of additions suggested above (which are merely suggestions).

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