TikTok-famous cop dog shot

K9 Arlo ('s handler, TBH) built up a substantial following—and getting injured in "the line of duty" has only made him bigger.

I know, I know, a provocative subject line—we all love dogs, right? So before we go any further, here’s the ACAP team’s official message to Arlo the K9 on his recovery:

Great, now that we’ve got that out of the way—let’s talk about the TikTok-famous German Shepherd who’s going viral for surviving a pair of gunshot wounds.

Before anyone accuses me of being jealous of a dog’s clout, let me state upfront that I could not even handle the kind of internet reach Arlo has: K9Arlo’s online presence is strongest on TikTok, where “his” account currently sits at 1.8 million followers and he’s also got a clean 75,000 followers on Instagram. (He is NOT to be confused with K9 Arlo of the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Northwestern Regional Police Department, who only has like, 3,200 fans on Facebook.)

As for the star himself, Arlo is a 3-year-old K9 with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office in Olympia, Washington. He (if social media is to be believed) loves doing his job and participating in TikTok dance challenges with his “human partner,” deputy Tyler Turpin (whose main interests, coincidentally, also seem to be doing his job and participating in TikTok dance challenges).

From April 2020 to mid-January, the content on K9Arlo’s page hit typical notes for cop TikTok content: lighthearted, cheeky, “apolitical” clips set to popular music that would be a lot more palatable if they weren’t… about policing. Coupled with the fact that Arlo is a genuinely cute animal, and it’s no surprise Turpin’s clips earned the duo a hefty internet following.

On January 13, K9 Arlo was shot twice during a police chase with a 25-year-old man (now “suspect”) after the man fled when cops attempted to pull him over for reckless driving. According to multiple news reports, along with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, Arlo underwent multiple surgeries to repair damage to his shoulder and one of his rear legs, and has since returned home from the hospital—a healing journey meticulously documented across platforms, of course.

And, again, because Arlo is a very cute dog, people watching at home reacted accordingly.

Which is fine! I get it! We like dogs! We love crying! It’s the internet! It’s the siren song of “ACAB but…” when the stakes are (at face value) so low.

A post shared by K9 Arlo (@officialk9arlo)

However, it’s worth noting, from the Centralia Chronicle, emphasis mine:

“The stop quickly turned into the suspect exiting his vehicle and immediately pointing a firearm at officers,” the Mason County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a press release Wednesday. “Five Thurston County sheriff’s deputies and one Washington State Patrol trooper immediately fired their weapons at the suspect. During the shooting, the suspect was struck by gunfire. Also injured by gunfire was K9 Arlo.”

Set aside the fact that six cops opened fire on a single person, who incidentally was shot and remains hospitalized. The statement from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office specifically never says that the suspect fired his gun, which means the cops probably fucked up and shot Arlo. Aaaah! What a way to gain followers and a national profile, and raise $70,000 to boot—the amount of money drummed up by the public to help pay for Arlo’s care.

Turpin—who seems to have launched a since-deleted “Official TikTok Cop Podcast” in November—expressed concerns about “shadowbanning” in late 2020. But censorship must be long gone from his mind by now. The ‘Fight Song’-backed TikTok above has been viewed 56.3 million times and has garnered 10.3 million likes as of this writing—more interaction than I’ve personally ever seen a video receive on the platform. Arlo has also been the subject of breathless local and national news coverage—I’d be shocked if the wounded doggy, handler Turpin in tow of course, doesn’t make it onto a morning talk show sometime in the next few weeks.

It’s… funny… that the police dog would become an avatar of the bravery and the sacrifice involved in policing, considering the gulf between the number of police dogs killed “in the line of duty” and the number of dogs the police themselves execute. Per a 2019 paper in the Contemporary Justice Review, only 96 police dogs (out of a guestimated 50,000 active dogs across the U.S.) were killed “in the line of duty” between 2011 and 2015—and the vast majority of those deaths were from heat exhaustion, i.e., cops leaving their precious warriors in hot cars for too long.

Meanwhile, a 2018 Department of Justice report estimated that the police kill 25-30 dogs every single day in the U.S.—and a disproportionate amount of those animal executions take place in Black and brown communities, according to a 2020 report from Slate. No surprise there! Whose dogs are “threatening?” Whose homes are most likely to be invaded by the police in a way that might cause a dog to, I don’t know, bark a little? Jump?

I don’t want police dogs to die, or get shot, because I don’t want any dogs to die or get shot. I want cop dogs should to do the same thing I want all cops to do: Quit their jobs as soon as fucking possible... Arlo included!

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Blocked and Reported

I’ve been negligent with these… forgive me… here are the latest officers felled by their own insatiable need to post. This week’s entries are decidedly Capitol-themed.

  • On January 6, the Baton Rouge Police Department opened an investigation on an officer only identified as L. Taylor for posting TikToks, including one that “[made] light of drunk driving,” while in uniform.

  • On January 8, Philadelphia Police Department detective/QAnon supporter Jennifer Gugger was reassigned from her job after she called Mike Pence a pedophile on Twitter (among other things). The Philadelphia Inquirer noted Gugger’s responsibilities previously included running background checks on police recruits… and screening their social media profiles. Oops!

  • On January 11, the Fort Worth Police Officer’s Association heard Parler was a hive for fascism and hopped on the platform juuuust before it shut down. A spox for the FWPOA told a local news site it “secured its handle” on Parler to “to protect against others using the FWPOA brand for nefarious purposes.” Who wouldn’t want to harness the power and influence of the police union in the fifth-largest city in Texas?

  • On January 12, Michael Gonzalez with the Pacific Grove Police Department in Pacific Grove, CA, was fired after a probe into his Parler account, where he posted “Fuck Black Lives Matter” and boosted pro-Trump conspiracy theories. A campaign on a “Christian crowdfunding site” has raised $3,000 for Gonzalez in the wake of his firing. I would recommend not donating to it.

  • Also on Jan. 12, an unnamed police officer from Prince George’s County, Maryland was suspended for posting a photo of himself flashing his badge, gun, an “I Voted” sticker, and a MAGA t-shirt. What a lame photoshoot to get in trouble at work over :-/

  • On January 13, more than 100 city-owned phones were seized from Oakland Police Department officers as part of an investigation into hate speech by the city of Oakland… after officers were caught reposted and commenting on police brutality Instagram memes.

  • On January 15, the Boston Police Department opened an investigation into an anonymous officer whose Twitter threats indicate he may have participated in the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

Questions, comments, corrections? (“You don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer” is not a correction.) Shoot me an email at k80way@protonmail.com, send “business” “inquiries” to way.kta@gmail.com, or DM me on Twitter.