Thursday, March 19, 2015

Police Dogs: Vicious Animals Or Helpers?

While the Police Department will tell you police dogs or K9's as many of us call them, are intensely trained animals to help the police in certain situations. A lot of people if asked, will tell you they think police dogs are mean and are trained to attack on command. Is being held by a police dog a form of brutality? If the human officer cannot bite a suspect then why should a dog be allowed to inflict such bodily injury?

German Shepherds are most widely known as being Police dogs, but a few other breeds are also used. Most police dogs are trained to intimidate, find, chase and hold suspects who are either running or hiding from the Police. Police state that the dogs objective is not to bite a fleeing suspect but to find, grab and hold on until the dogs handler gives the release command. While a suspect is being 'held' by the dog, he may get bitten even if he's not fighting or trying to get the dog off. Often times the officer will not call the dog off until the suspect has put his hands out to his sides and is laying down on his or her stomach. All the while the suspect is being bitten by the Police dog.

How hard would it be for the average person to lay still while having their arm or leg chewed on by a large animal? In many states, attacking a Police dog is a felony. So if you try to defend yourself while a police dog has your leg in it's mouth and is biting you. You may find yourself in even more trouble if you accidentally harm the dog while trying to get it off you. In many states the Police dogs now have the same rights as a human officer. If one is killed, the suspect can then be prosecuted the same as if he killed a human officer in the line of duty.

Dogs are also used in other parts of Law Enforcement. Dogs can be trained to sniff out drugs, bombs, explosives, chemicals and used in Airports to sniff the baggage for things that aren't supposed to be there.

It's up to the handlers actions and whether he let's the dog bite the suspect for longer than is necessary when several other human officers are standing around the suspect yelling at him to lay face down when the dog is chewing on his leg. These dogs are supposed to be helping save the human officers life in case of dangerous situations and they are used to safe guard the public. But instead of the public liking and trusting the dogs to do their job, they are scared of them and have every right to be.

Most Police dogs live with their human partners or handlers as they are sometimes called. The dogs interact with the handlers family members, friends and anyone who would come to their home just as a regular pet would. This is supposed to ensure that the Police dogs remain friendly, social animals.

According to, "Police say the Friday attack of the department’s police dog, Storm, on an 8-year-old boy was an unfortunate accident, but Storm has done much more good than bad during his time with the department. The boy, Patrick Assion, was visiting his grandmother’s house in Campbell and playing hide-and-seek with his cousin in the backyard when Storm took hold of Patrick’s arm and dragged him to the ground. The incident left the boy three physical reminders of the attack: a red mark on his arm, a T-shirt full of holes and a torn-up sweat shirt."

Police dogs bite the wrong people at times and sometimes it's a tragic accident but when police know that their dogs are trained to bite when they sniff out drugs and they hide a small amount of drugs on a small child who then gets bit, who's fault is that? The Handler should have known better in my opinion. According to the Huffington Post, "Children were subjected to a “simulated raid” of a party so they could witness police searching citizens with dogs and look for reasons to arrest them in a “drug awareness” event.  The idea went from bad to worse when one of the children was attacked by the police dog as it sniffed them for drugs."

There are instance after instance where police dogs have attacked the wrong person and yet these dogs are still used. Maybe they aren't trained as well as the police want us to believe they are? In probably one of the most horrific stories I've ever read about a K9 attack, an elderly woman was mauled by the dog. According to The Free Thought Project, "Irene Collins, an elderly cancer patient of Middlesbrough has died over the weekend, after being attacked by an out of control Cleveland police K9 last Wednesday night.

The police had a heavy presence in her neighborhood that evening and were going door to door searching for an escaped alleged drug dealer. Neighbors of the ill grandmother reportedly warned the officers she was frail and in bad condition.  They went to her door to disturb her anyway. The dog attacked the woman in her kitchen as she was leading the officers to her back yard.

One neighbor told the Daily Mail,  ‘She wasn’t bitten, she was mauled. A relative told me the dog had punctured and broken her arm, ripped her other arm, and then managed to bite off her calf muscle after it had been restrained.’

The department has issued a statement saying:

“The police dog involved has been withdrawn from operational policing activities and support is being provided to the police officer who was handling the dog at the time of the event. We are committed to learning any lessons that may arise from the investigation and the daily use of police dogs remains operationally important in reducing crime and disorder and protecting the public. Our dogs are trained and licensed for use in accordance with national police guidance.”

This is why it is very important to never consent to a search, or let police into your home, even if you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide."

Still other people are worried that the use of dogs in Police work should be considered animal cruelty. Humans knowingly become Police Officers, knowing full well what the risks are. But dogs have no say in what they are trained to do. Should dogs be forced to take a bullet or knife wound for a human officer or be put into harms way or dangerous situations just because it's a dog?