Epidemic of Cops Shooting Dogs Can End With New Training Tools
As law enforcement’s use of deadly force on humans comes increasingly under the spotlight as a major public safety issue, its staggering death toll on dogs who continue to be killed across the country hasn’t gotten enough attention. While these heartbreaking scenarios didn’t have to happen, many jurisdictions are getting ahead by offering specialized training on canine behavior, and your police department and county sheriff’s office can do it too if they haven’t already.
Dogs may become victims in a number of ways; often they just happen to be at a scene that had nothing to do with them. We were recently involved in the case of Moose, a friendly mastiff mix who was fatally shot by a police officer in Inkster, Michigan. We’ve aided his guardian Brad Brock in seeking justice and paying a ridiculous fine he was given for having Moose — who again was friendly and exhibiting no signs of threatening behavior — off-leash.
Sadly, this isn’t the first case In Defense of Animals has been involved in. The first was in 1991, which was resolved in 1998 with a settlement of $225,000, which was believed to be the largest settlement a family was ever awarded for the shooting of their dog at the time. Even though dogs are considered mere property in the eyes of the law since then many families have received settlements far above that.
While settlements acknowledge some accountability, they can never bring back those who have been lost or mend the broken hearts of guardians who have lost their beloved companions.
There is no excuse for calls to law enforcement to not be handled properly when dogs, or other animals, are involved because officers lack the knowledge about how to respond. There are, of course, many officers who know what to do, and many cities and states have mandated training programs on encounters with dogs and non-lethal options with success, but there is still a long way to go toward establishing these programs as the standard.
Canine Behavior Training Can Save Lives
There are plenty of resources offered by the National Sheriffs’ Association, including training and examples of model legislation, and now, the use of simulators that can also prepare officers to respond appropriately.
If your regional law enforcement agencies are not receptive, persist and if communication from our Justice for Animals campaign might influence officials to engage in the training of their responders contact [email protected] for help.