Somewhere in doggie heaven, Lily the border collie is looking down with a beatific smile and saying, “Ruff ruff ruff,” which translates to either, “My death was not in vain” or “Jesus, can you spare a biscuit?”

A Fort Worth police officer responding to a theft call last year wound up by mistake at the home of Mark and Cindy Boling, where he shot the couple’s dog after it allegedly charged him while the couple was unloading groceries. That tragedy prompted the Bolings to call for more police training on how to deal with dogs. Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead met with the couple and convinced them he was serious about trying to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

Sure enough, the Fort Worth Police Department paid for 25 officers (at $100 each) to receive mandatory animal encounter and behavior training from a certified trainer last fall. Now those 25 officers will teach the same course to about 800 patrol officers during in-service training.


“Having the advanced training, you can start thinking of physical changes you can make to your approach and your stance as well as to your eyes and your demeanor that can have a direct effect on a dog who is just protecting property,” Halstead said.

The officer who shot Lily might have responded differently had he gone through the training, he said. The course teaches various methods of changing one’s facial expressions and body language when dealing with animals.

“In the case with the Bolings, the officer would have had better training to understand what dynamics he needed to employ so that the dog’s behavior can change,” Halstead said. “The border collie was barking and got within about a foot of the officer’s pant leg, and the officer thought he was going to get bitten. That was probably more of a protective bark than an aggressive attack bark. It would probably change the manner in which officers respond to those calls.”

The Bolings are now pushing for legislation that would allow the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) to mandate similar training for law enforcement officers.

“I have drafted what I believe the training should consist of, which is the Fort Worth Police Department training program,” Cindy Boling wrote on her Facebook page. “We need a representative or senator to sponsor it.”


  1. dogs are angels on earth

    The thing I’m most worried about is when I get to heaven [QED] is when my loyal trusted pets will finally be able to communicate with me.

    I don’t know what I’m going to say when they ask the question that haunted them their entire lives:

    “We know you loved us dearly, would do anything for us, so please answer us the burning question beyond our understanding, though we knew there was an excellent reason we would some day learn, ‘Why did you feed us dry food out of that big bag when you ate such yummy smelling foods, and, secondly, just curious, why did you smell so bad?”

  2. Mark and I continue to appreciate Chief Halstead’s honesty and unending support in our efforts to bring about change in Lily’s name. However, I am compelled to respond to the quote attributed to him that our Lily got within one foot of Officer Frank Brown’s pant leg and he was afraid Lily was going to bite him. There were three people present when Officer Brown shot Lily and we have all given our statements. However, Lily’s blood reveals the fact of where she was standing when she was shot to death. It was explained to me by a police officer at the scene after the shooting that the pool and splatter of blood on our porch was caused by the bullet tearing through Lily’s body – it was no less than 4 ft. from where Officer Brown was standing. We were also told by FWPD that Officer Brown said “I thought their other dog was a pitbull so I shot the dog closest to me.” Our other dog, Gracey, never approached him and was being held in Mark’s arms. He was not in fear of Lily biting him – he shot her because he thought Gracey was a pitbull – she is not a pitbull.

    • Thank you for standing up for Lily. My email query last year to the FWPD went unanswered. I am very disappointed in the FWPD. I live on the east side and sincerely concerned that calling the police will only bring violence to my home, not a peacekeeper.

  3. I was a UPS driver for 14 years. I was charged by dogs many times over those years. More times than any FW cop- I dare to say. Yet I was able to successfully and harmlessly deal with these dogs just to deliver a small package. I could have walked up to the Boling residence in the exact same situation, right address- or wrong address(!), night or day, and delivered a simple package.

    I did exactly that hundreds of times.

    Sure, the dogs sometimes scared me, and, yes, I was none too happy with the dog’s owner at times. However, using excessive force on a customer’s dog was unthinkable.
    I was accountable to my employer, UPS, for a certain standard of professional behavior and conduct, and that did not include harming a customer’s dog. I used verbal commands and body language to deflect these alleged “attacks.” And I was not trained in animal encounters (as Chief Halstead admits his cop was not, either!). I just used common sense and a little restraint.

    So, why is it that some cops, like FWPD’s Frank Brown, think a barking, “charging” or scared dog is an extreme life or death encounter? An encounter so dangerous that he felt justified in deploying his handgun, killing the dog and endangering innocent citizens? In my opinion, there is no good reason- it is just recklessness and fear. I would expect more integrity from a police officer.

    I hope the the FWPD training program will produce positive change, and minimize these horrifying tragedies. If the cops take it seriously- it will. It is this FWPD program that I advise our local law enforcement agencies in Colorado to consider.