It’s not all that often that the United States Department of Justice produces a resource to help animals, so we are thrilled to see their recent publication of “The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters.“
Designed primarily for use by law enforcement personnel, this guide, issued by the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, offers “tools, practices, and procedures that contribute to effective responses to dog-related incidents and encounters where dogs are present.” As we all know, shootings of dogs by the police — completely unnecessary and unwarranted shootings — are all too common. Law enforcement encounters with dogs happen all the time, whether officers are making traffic stops, serving warrants, investigating, or even pursuing suspects, and all too often innocent dogs get caught in the middle.
This guide provides some desperately needed advice to officers in handling such dog-related incidents with sensitivity and intelligence, rather than just knee-jerk fear. It offers an “in-depth look into developing effective strategies in assessing a dog’s environment; what dog posture, vocalization, and facial expressions mean; options for distracting and escaping from a dog; defensive options in dealing with a dog; asking the right questions in dog investigations; and effective gathering of dog evidence and report writing.”
This is clearly an important resource, and anyone interested in this issue should not only familiarize themselves with this report, but should make sure that their local law enforcement agency is aware of it and will use it to educate officers in handling dog-related incidents safely, for all the parties involved. You can download it for free or order copies on the DOJ website.