Ferocious Fido: Why Police Officers Need a Plan for Dealing with Vicious Dogs

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Category: Law Enforcement

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s tip is for law enforcement officers and it deals with shooting dogs.  

If a vicious animal charges or attacks, you must do whatever it takes to stay safe. That may include shooting and killing a dog. 

As I travel the country, I look for headlines and news reports that may identify problems in public safety. Here are a few recent headlines I’ve spotted. Police are Shooting a Shocking Number of People’s Pets.” “Killing of Dogs Becoming an Issue.” And the kicker, Police Can Shoot Your Dog for NReason.  

One online database claims to have documented nearly 3,000 animals that have been killed by officers in recent years. 

Like many of you, Ms. Graham and I have dogs. The most special dog we ever had was named Laddie. He was a member of our family. If we were to see Laddie get shot and killed, we would be heartbroken and very angry, too. I’m sure the same is true for many of you. 

It’s not uncommon for drug dealers to keep dangerous animals in their yards or homes as security. If a vicious animal charges or attacks, you must do whatever it takes to stay safe. That may include shooting and killing a dog.  

But predictable is preventable. In some situations, we have time to make a formal plan. We should look for signs that a dangerous animal might be present. Our plan should include reasonable non-lethal options for dealing with a dangerous animal. TASERs, OC spray, and fire extinguishers may be viable options. Consider talking with an animal control officer as part of the planning process. They may suggest other options.  

What about more traditional calls for service? You probably still have time to make an informal plan. If there might be a dangerous animal, ask yourself if it’s necessary to rush in. Explore other options. Try to get people to exit the location. Ask the resident to secure the animal. Call for a supervisor. 

If you ARE forced to kill a vicious animal, I have a suggestion. Show a little compassion. Consider seeking emergency veterinary care for the animal. It’s the right thing to do. And people are watching. 

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off. 

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