We read too often of a police officer shooting a family dog. A recent Colorado incident underlines an issue that all police departments need to address—are their officers adequately trained in how to handle, in a non-lethal manner, off-leash dogs?
A police officer’s job is not an easy one. But officers should be trained in all aspects of their job including how to handle confrontations with off-leash dogs.
When police encounter dangerous humans, they are required to maintain restraint and use non-lethal means of subduing that person. We would like police to use that same caution and restraint when it comes to a family dog. Unfortunately, our laws do not require this: in most states shooting a dog is legally the same as breaking a car window or kicking in a door.
We need our police departments to provide clear guidelines and training on how officers can accurately assess the threat of a dog and, if dangerous, deal with it through non-lethal means. We must act on what can be done now for training police in how to handle confrontational dogs, while continuing to talk and educate on broader issues like the property status of animals.
Colorado residents, please contact your state legislators and let them know you want your law enforcement officers trained in how to handle dogs in a non-lethal manner. Tell them to support SB 226, which will provide training to law enforcement officers in how to deal with dogs.