Puppycide

Radley Balko has been reporting on incidents of ‘puppycide’ (where law enforcement officer shoot dogs on various flimsy reasons).  He’s got an article up on HuffPo about it.

When police officers shoot dogs, departments usually deem the shooting justified if the officer felt threatened by the animal.

Look, I get it.  Law enforcement can be a dangerous job.  But I was in a similar situation.  I spent 20 years in the military including a tour in Afghanistan.  It was dangerous.  Ok…If I didn’t know that when I first signed up I got the hint after the first few years.  If working in that sort of environment wasn’t for me, I could go look for another gig.  No harm, no foul.

Still, there’s a fetish in the law enforcement community about ‘officer safety’ that’s out of whack.  There is a reasonable, easy solution to this issue.  Training.

Groups like the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offer free training to police departments, but both organizations said few departments take them up on the offer. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle are among departments that don’t provide regular training to officers on how to respond to dogs.

The easiest way to tell if a law enforcement agency doesn’t care about an issue is if they refuse free training dealing with it.

The other problem is the lack of accountability.  Police unions will excuse virtually any behavior.  Police departments usually conduct their own internal investigations.  Neither of those practices do much to build trust or credibility.

And guess, what? It’s actually a proven concept!

A Postal Service spokesman said in a 2009 interview that serious dog attacks on mail carriers are extremely rare. That’s likely because postal workers are annually shown a two-hour video and given further training on “how to distract dogs with toys, subdue them with voice commands, or, at worst, incapacitate them with Mace.”

All that being said, I don’t want to paint too broad a brush here.  After all, it was the stellar work of my local law enforcement that directly led to the rescue of Shiloh a couple of years ago.  There’s a lot of good work being done…but it can (and needs to) be better.

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