For Immediate Release:
December 12, 2023
Brittney Williams 202-483-7382
Shaker Heights, Ohio – Last night, PETA sent a letter to the Shaker Heights Police Department chief of police, Wayne D. Hudson, requesting that he immediately retire and transfer permanent custody of K-9 Igor to former officer Chad Hagan, the dog’s partner and constant companion for more than five years. Hagan’s request to keep Igor—who has lived with Hagan and his family for most of his life—was denied on Thanksgiving, even after he offered to pay the city more than $10,000 to cover the cost of replacing Igor.
In the letter, PETA slams the police department’s assertion that 6-year-old Igor could be kept on duty for up to two more years, noting that the German shepherd—who has apparently been confined to a kennel facility since last month—is already approaching the age when large-breed K-9s should be retired.
Igor. Credit: Shaker Heights Police Department Facebook page
“Igor is locked in a kennel, surely scared and confused, when he should be enjoying a peaceful retirement with the loving family he’s been side by side with for most of his life,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is urging the Shaker Heights Police Department not to be a grinch this Christmas and to let Igor go home to his family.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Hudson follows.
December 11, 2023
Wayne D. Hudson
Chief of Police
Shaker Heights Police Department
Dear Chief Hudson:
I hope this message finds you well. I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our nearly 191,000 members and supporters in Ohio to urge you to immediately retire and transfer permanent custody of K-9 Igor to former Shaker Heights police officer Chad Hagan, who was his handler for more than five years, and has offered to pay the city $10,000 to help offset the cost of replacing him.
According to news reports, Igor has been part of Hagan’s family since the two were partnered together when the dog was only a year old. They have hardly spent any time apart over the last five years (more than half the typical life expectancy of a German shepherd), forging a powerful bond that no doubt made them an efficient team on duty and inseparable companions off duty. Sudden separation and kenneling would be certain to cause significant distress to Igor. Studies have shown that the human-animal bond is crucial to a working dog’s success and that high levels of stress and anxiety impair an animal’s ability to perform as expected. Despite the city’s assertion that Igor could perhaps continue working for at least two more years, the dog is already approaching the age when large-breed K-9s should be retired. It’s in the best interests of the community for Igor to be retired and remain with the Hagan family.
Additionally, although the official statement released by the city cites Shaker Heights municipal code as preventing the agency from selling Igor to Hagan, the city in fact maintains discretion to transfer legal custody of the animal. Code section 141.07 is inapplicable to the sale of a dog who is not retired, injured, disabled, or too old for duty, and the exception in subsection (c) only revokes the handler’s right to purchase the animal but doesn’t prohibit the city from selling him. Therefore, whether the police department chooses to retire Igor or claims that he is “still fit for duty,” the city maintains discretion to sell or otherwise release the dog to Hagan.
Most news reports about police dogs highlight the ugly side of the industry, including the cruelty of outdated training methods and the suffering and deaths endured in the line of duty, incidents that erode a community’s trust in law enforcement. We hope you will take this opportunity to do the right thing.
Thank you for your consideration.
Manager, Cruelty Investigations Department