A Policy Of Puppycide

A. Barton Hinkle notes that “both state laws and departmental policies seem to let police officers use deadly force as a first resort against family pets that often present little or no threat.” He wants this to stop:

The Justice Department says not only that “dogs are seldom dangerous” but that even when they are, “the overwhelming majority of dog bites are minor, causing either no injury at all or injuries so minor that no medical care is required.” As Balko writes, “If dangerous dogs are so common, one would expect to find frequent reports of vicious attacks on meter readers, postal workers, firemen, and delivery workers. But according to a spokesman from the United States Postal Service, serious dog attacks on mail carriers are vanishingly rare.”

Yet serious – deadly – attacks against dogs are all too common. They shouldn’t be. And the solutions are obvious: Departmental policies, backed by state law, should require police officers to use lethal force against companion animals only as a last resort. Officers should receive training in safe and non-lethal methods of animal control – and in dog behavior: “An approaching dog is almost always friendly,” according to the Justice Department; “a dog who feels threatened will usually try to keep his distance.”

Recent Dish on cops shooting dogs here and here.