The Wilbraham Police Department sponsored a “Polar Plunge” event to raise money for the Special Olympics on February 14. The event was put on by Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR). Wilbraham officers oversaw each participant as they hopped into a hole cut out of the ice of the frozen Spec Pond. The officers also stood by and watched as a man shoved a labrador named Lincoln into the freezing water. It turns out pushing the dog in was all just part of the plan. In a statement released by police, “This owner of the dog did notify LETR of the dog’s participation and the participation was announced to a crowd of over 250 people with no concern.” The act was known about in advance and allowed to happen; worse it sounds like it was announced as an attraction.
Humans can consent to doing crazy things like hopping into a frozen pond, but dogs cannot, and the pictures and video do show that the dog had to be “assisted” into the frozen pond. Even the police had to admit as much. Since Lincoln was registered his owner obviously planned to put him in the freezing water no matter what.
Pictures circulating on Facebook show the dog seemingly being pushed into the water while the crowd including several Wilbraham police officers watched.
Video has been released as well showing Lincoln’s owner drag him to the water then push him in. The police have been very adamant that the push wasn’t a push at all, saying in a statement “At the end of the event, a dog entered the water with the assistance of its owner. The owner stated that he placed his hand on the dog’s rear at which time the dog entered the water. There was no forceful shove and this is clearly visible within the video” (emphasis added).
The Wilbraham police Facebook page has been pulled offline and a statement on the department’s website says that the page is being "modified" but will be brought back. However according to Chief Rodger Tucker the actual reason the Facebook page is down is a flood of outraged comments “As a result, the department pulled the plug on the page and is not likely to restore it until the controversy blows over.”
The Wilbraham Police Department’s Twitter page is still active, and has posted about the incident saying Lincoln is alright and that the police were not the ones to push him into the water. The comment was met with a flood of angry responses pointing out that the event was a police sponsored event and nothing was done to stop the dog’s owner.
As one commenter, Eric Thompson, put it, “[It] still seems like an asshat move.”
Many other commenters said that pushing the dog into the lake was animal abuse. Wilbraham police say that they know who the dog’s owner is and that the MSPCA has investigated the incident. Clearly though the police did nothing at the scene and almost nothing after except damage control.
In either a sad attempt at damage control or a fit of comedic genius, the latest Wilbraham police tweet is a picture of one of their police dogs not being thrown into a frozen lake. However, there is no snow in the picture and the foliage in the background make it clear that the picture was taken in autumn.
Thankfully Lincoln is fine.