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Animal group PETA says it will ‘demand answers’ about K-9 incident during Salisbury City Council meeting

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — At today’s virtual city council meeting, the advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it will “demand answers” related to leaked video footage of a Salisbury Police officer pulling up a K-9 by a leash, slamming the animal into a car and striking him.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. People can view the livestream of the meeting at salisburync.gov/webcast or the city’s Twitter account at twitter.com/CitySalisburyNC. People can also tune in by dialing 312-626-6799 or 646-876-9923 or 346-248-7799, with meeting ID 83906293190 and passcode 321047.

Anyone who wishes to speak during the public comment must sign up by 5 p.m. Tuesday by contacting City Clerk Kelly Baker at kbake@salisburync.gov or 704-638-5233.

The video, which has made national headlines and been widely seen on social media, shows a SPD K-9 handler aggressively lifting 4-year-old German shepherd named Zuul off the ground by his collar and pulling the animal onto his back during a training exercise. With the animal hanging off the ground, the officer slammed the dog on the side of a police vehicle, lifted him into the car by his collar and struck him with his hand.

In the video, an off-camera voice is heard saying, “We’re good, no witnesses.” Other voices talk about turning cameras off.

PETA and a handful of locals gathered on March 6 in front of the SPD to protest the incident with signs that read, “Justice for Zuul.”

The department has maintained that Zuul is healthy and has since been separated from the handler, whose name is not known at this time.

PETA stated on Monday that it would be speaking during the city council meeting and calling for the officer to be charged.

“In 2021, a police department that covers up for one of its own instead of charging him with a violation of state law for inflicting physical abuse on a trusting dog who serves this community should not operate a K-9 unit,” said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in a statement. “The community deserves action and answers, including regarding why some elected officials have apparently known about the video for several months but have yet to take action.”

Items on the Salisbury City Council’s agenda include:

• Council members will consider adopting a modified version of the Downtown Main Street striping plan and concept plan, which was presented at the March 3 meeting. The full set of plans can be viewed at salisburync.gov/mainstplan.

• A public hearing will be held regarding the use of 2021-22 Community Development Block Grant funds and HOME Program funds. The city is expected during the 2021-22 fiscal year to receive about $425,000 in CDBG and HOME program funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A portion may be used for neighborhood improvements and revitalization along with public service funding for low-to-moderate-income families. The proposed budget and action plan for the funds will be presented to city council at the April 20 meeting.

• Council members will revisit applications for various board and commission appointments. Many seats are set to expire on March 31, but following concern from Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins regarding a lack of diversity among board members currently, council members appointed some and tabled other appointments at the March 3 meeting to allow more time for a more diverse applicant pool.

• Council members will consider awarding a contract in the amount of $37,000 to Elliott Davis, PLLC, for auditing services for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The firm has performed financial audits for the last five fiscal years, and has proposed a two-year contract extension, with $38,000 expected for the 2021-22 fiscal year audit.

• Council members will consider a request from Stokes to donate a LiveScan fingerprinting machine to the Spencer Police Department.

• Council members will also consider a request from the Public Works Department to declare a 2006 Morbark Tub Grinder as surplus and auction the equipment for at least $30,000.

• Members will appropriate $32,850 in additional ABC revenue to the 2020-21 general fund. The city has received three of four distributions of ABC revenue, with the final projection to be a total of $50,000-$60,000 over budget. City staff are proposing to use the proceeds for engineering projects and needs that have not yet been budgeted, such as a $40,000 Emergency Vehicle Pre-emption at Fire Station 6 on Cedar Springs Road. Members will also  appropriate $23,019 in insurance claims revenue to the 2020-21 general fund.

• Council members will consider adopting its 2021 Goals and Outcomes Priorities discussed at the council’s two-day retreat in February.

• Mayor Karen Alexander will proclaim April as “Civitan Awareness Month,” and proclaim March 31 as “Transgender Day of Visibility.”

Additionally, Downtown Salisbury Inc. on March 27 will host “Ring in Spring” from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Gateway Park located at the corner of Depot and East Innes streets. Free professional photos will be available with the Easter Bunny by appointment only. Photos will occur in 20-minute increments with only 10 slots available within each time slot. Each member family member must be registered, excluding babies under 2 years old. To sign up and for additional information, visit www.downtownsalisburync.com. Masks are required, and social distancing measures and sanitation procedures will also be in place.

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