A New York woman who faced public backlash after calling police on a black birdwatcher in Central Park will get her dog returned to her after law enforcement declined to take custody of the animal, a rescue group says.
Amy Cooper—the woman at the center of the controversy—“voluntarily surrendered” the dog to the rescue group shortly after video surfaced showing her calling the police on Christian Cooper, a birdwatcher who had asked her to put her dog on leash in a wooded area of Central Park known as The Ramble.
But after a veterinarian examined the dog and found it in “good health” the rescue group announced on its Facebook page Wednesday that the dog would be returned to Amy Cooper.
“We have coordinated with the appropriate New York City law enforcement agencies, which have declined to examine the dog or take it into their custody,” the group wrote in the post. “Accordingly, and consistent with input received from law enforcement, we have now complied with the owner’s request for return of the dog.”
The rescue group also expressed “gratitude for the outpouring of support” and concern it had received from the public since the viral video posted to Christian Cooper’s Facebook page made national headlines.
Christian Cooper said in the post that he had been out birdwatching when he saw a woman’s dog “tearing through the plantings” and asked her to put the dog on a leash.
Dogs are required to be on a leash at all times in that area of the park, according to the park’s website.
However, Christian Cooper said Amy Cooper refused to put her dog on the leash and told him instead that the dog needed his exercise and that the dog runs were closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The situation escalated when Christian Cooper began to film the encounter and Amy Cooper repeatedly asked him to stop filming before saying she was going to take his picture and call the cops.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she said.
Cooper responded by saying, “Please tell them whatever you like.”
Moments later, Amy Cooper can be seen talking to police repeatedly telling them an African American man is “threatening me and my dog” before she becomes hysterical and pleads for them to send the police.
“I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble,” she said. “Please send the cops immediately!”
Amy Cooper eventually puts her dog on the leash and Christian Cooper says “thank you” before the video ends.
By the time police arrived at the scene, both parties had left and no arrests were made, according to CNN.
The video also sparked concern for Amy Cooper’s dog after she can be seen visibly struggling with the dog throughout the encounter. She can be seen pulling him up from the harness around his neck and occasionally pulling his front paws off the ground while the dog squirmed.
The rescue group initially posted that Amy Cooper had “voluntarily surrendered” the dog “while this matter is being addressed” before ultimately deciding to return the dog to her care.
Amidst the intense public backlash over the encounter, her employer Franklin Templeton announced they had fired her from her job.
“Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately,” the organization tweeted in May. “We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.”
Amy Cooper made several public apologies for her actions in the days that followed the video’s release.
"I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family," she told local station told WNBC. "It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologize to everyone who’s seen that video, everyone that’s been offended … everyone who thinks of me in a lower light and I understand why they do.”
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