Thursday, April 12, 2012

Police dogs bite people and get away with it

When I am scanning headlines, looking for interesting articles about animals, I come across stories like this one in the Lakeland Ledger once or twice a month.
I have the highest regard for most law enforcement personnel. They do a very dangerous job for low pay and very few accolades. Their lives are on the line every time they put their uniform on. I have the same regard for police dogs who are considered officers. They are also trained law enforcement personnel.
The reason I cited this article was not to, in any way, downplay the importance of these animals or to say they are wrong in any way, but to point out the similarities in what they do as a job, and what they do as a normal pet. They are trained animals but when they are not working they become a part of an officer's family.
In this case, a remote was accidentally pressed and the dog got out of the patrol vehicle. He then bit a suspect in handcuffs who was struggling with the K-9 officer. According to the article, the assistant police chief, Larry Giddens said, "It was unintentional but the dog reacted as he has been trained and conditioned to respond."
I would beg to differ with Officer Giddens. Dogs do not bite unintentionally. When they bite they mean it or they wouldn't do it. I say the animal saw his master in a struggle with a person and when he got loose, he was protecting his owner.
My dogs, I hope, would do the same. The difference is Tiberious was on the job and was "trained" to protect. My dogs are not trained to protect. They have a natural instinct to protect.
Tiberious stands no chance of being killed for biting a suspect. The worst which could happen is the student who was bitten could sue the police department for damages, the city would settle out of court and the dog would be free to continue to work.
The same cannot be said for regular dogs who are simply protecting their owners. They would be pulled from the home, held for 10 days and if they are lucky, only labeled a dangerous dog and allowed to return home after quarantine. Many of them are killed after their quarantine period is over. Some are turned over to a rescue group but they must be willing to take the animal due to a bite history and that doesn't happen often. Somehow that doesn't seem quite right to me.

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