A sheriff’s office in North Carolina is being criticized on Twitter for how it paid homage to a K9 that was shot and killed in the line of duty.
The Wake County Sheriff’s Office published a tweet on Friday announcing that the dog, named Santos, had been fatally wounded while tracking a suspect.
“The entire Wake County Sheriff’s Office family is heartbroken after K9 Santos was shot & killed in the line of duty,” the tweet reads. “K9 Santos and his handler were called to assist Knightdale Police with a search for a suspect around 12:30 am. While tracking, K9 Santos was fatally wounded.”
At first glance, many would likely assume that Santos had been shot by the suspect he was pursuing. Yet missing from the tweet is the fact that the K9 was actually killed by law enforcement.
As noted by ABC 11, Santos, who was the longest-serving K9 in the sheriff’s office, was shot by a Knightdale police officer.
In a statement on the matter, Knightdale Police Chief Lawrence Capps stated that law enforcement officers in the county were “truly heartbroken” over the tragedy.
“All law enforcement officers understand the strong and undeniably special bond that exists between handlers and their K9 partners,” Capps said. “The involved officer is very distraught, so I can only imagine the deep swell of grief our friends in the sheriff’s office must be feeling. We extended our sincerest apologies and deepest sympathies.”
Yet the decision by the Wake County Sheriff’s Office to exclude the officer’s involvement in their tweet quickly rubbed users on the platform the wrong way.
The tweet, which has been viewed more than 3 million times so far, was also slapped with a Community Notes label further detailing the circumstances.
“While it is true K9 Santos was killed in the line of duty while tracking a suspect, he was shot by a member of the Knightdale Police Department and not the suspect,” the label says.
Despite the widespread pushback, the sheriff’s office has declined to address the criticism on Twitter.
“Community notes strikes again,” one user added. “Mfs trying to get sympathy for shooting their own dog.”
The 31-year-old officer who shot the dog has been in law enforcement for just 18 months. The officer was placed on leave pending an internal investigation into the shooting.