Training Program Prevents Police Killings of Pet Dogs

In four years, the Kansas City Police Department shot and killed 48 dogs. And they realized they needed to make major changes to reduce that number.

The KCPD invited dog behaviorist Anthony Barnett to educate officers on dog body language and how to approach dogs in a nonthreatening way, Fox4KC reported. They also changed protocol for handling aggressive dogs—in extreme situations, the officers are directed to use a taser rather than a gun to subdue the animal and then contact animal control to ensure the dog is not harmed.

In the four years that followed, the number of dogs killed by the KCPD was down to nine, an 81 percent decrease.

This news comes just after a Colorado family was awarded $262,000 for the killing of their pet dog by police officer Robert Price. A video of the incident was caught on tape, and Price was charged with aggravated animal cruelty but acquitted. The city said he acted “within policy” during the incident.

Colorado broke ground in 2013 when it became the first to pass legislation that requires police officers to undergo training in handling a pet dog and canine-related calls. The Dog Protection Act, which also mandated that police must give dog owners an opportunity to move their pets to a secure area “whenever feasible,” was drafted by Sen. David Balmer and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2013.

In 2015, Texas passed similar legislation, the House Bill 593, which requires Texas officers to undergo training beginning this month on how to use nonlethal force when encountering a dog perceived as dangerous.

The Washington Post pointed out in a lengthy article on police shootings of pet dogs that postal workers and meter readers—both also often the target of dog bites—receive training on how to avoid being bitten that has been successful in reducing incidents.

One example of the successful such training was last August when Texas officer Randall Frederick responded to a call of a neighborhood disturbance. When the homeowner’s 4-year-old son answered the door, the family’s dog jumped between the boy and the door and bit Frederick. Instead of shooting the dog, the officer used his training to diffuse the situation without causing any harm to the dog.

“They’re protecting their property, they’re protecting their homeowner, they`re protecting everything they have in that house,” Billy VonWolf, a KCPD officer told Fox4KC, adding that he and his fellow officers want to do everything they can to prevent dogs from being killed unnecessarily.

“We’re not robots,” he said. “We’re dog owners.”


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