Laws, Cops, and Family Dogs

August 8, 2013  


Lately, it seems everywhere I turn there’s a news story about a police officer needlessly shooting someone’s dog.  Whether any of these officers felt a legitimate threat to their lives we may never know, but one thing we do know.  Canine behavior training is essential for our law enforcement.  Officers need to be able to tell the difference between a dog approaching him to give him a lick hello, and one approaching in an aggressive manner.  Some states are starting to realize this.  Just a few months ago, Colorado passed the Colorado Dog Protection Act requiring police departments to offer training on recognizing dog behaviors and employing nonlethal control methods.  This is the first law of this kind in the country, and other states are following Colorado’s lead.  Read more about the Colorado law here.

There is currently a bill, HB 3388, sitting on Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s desk to amend the Illinois Police Training Act.  If signed, it would require officers in the state of Illinois to receive training on animal fighting awareness and humane response.  Officers would be taught to respond appropriately and humanely to dogs they come in contact with.  This would be a great step forward in the state so if you’re an Illinois resident, make sure you get those phone calls and emails into the Governor’s office urging him to sign.  For more information on this bill, visit the Illinois General Assembly website.

Just recently, I was on a road trip from Oregon to Utah with our 3 dogs, one of which is a pit bull.  While waiting in a grocery store parking lot in a small town somewhere along the way, an officer began to approach our vehicle.  My first thought (somewhat paranoid) was that the small town had breed discriminatory legislation and he had spotted our pit bull.  The officer made a hand signal to lower the window.  I complied.  He said, “Ma’am, I noticed your pit bull bumper stickers when you first drove in, and then when I looked into the car, I saw this handsome guy, and I just wanted to say hello to him.  Thank you for rescuing these guys.”  WOW!  There are definitely some great officers out there who love our StubbyDogs.  When we hear the awful stories in the news about officers shooting dogs, it’s important to remember that those officers are in the minority.  More people love our dogs than not, so we shouldn’t assume the worst.

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6 Responses to “Laws, Cops, and Family Dogs”
  1. John says:

    That’s a great story, thanks for relaying it. There are many fantastic law enforcement officers out there who would never think of harming a dog. It’s nice to see some consistent training standards being applied to ensure that proper knowledge is disseminated, and there are fewer stories of dogs being shot.

    My personal good cop anecdote is my Highway Patrol officer brother-in-law (who has 5 dogs with my sister) who rescues more dogs than I have. He has at least a story every week or two about finding a lost and scared dog along (or even on) the freeways of California. There are lots of good, dog/pittie friendly law enforcement folks out there, let’s sing their praises.

  2. Bully Lover says:

    I just wanted to say that this is a wonderfully written article. Not only are you bringing about awareness but you also added a feel good story and a positive point to it to alleviate paranoia. I really wish more “Beware” articles used your writing style.

    Thank you!

  3. Mitzi Bolanos says:

    Thank you Bully Lover! We try to keep it positive here at StubbyDog =)

  4. Tessa Reyes says:

    As a law enforcement officer AND more importantly, a dog lover, this is a bit ridiculous. The last sentence says “we shouldn’t assume the worst” but the entire article basically alludes to officer animal cruelty. This issue is less about educating police and should be more about educating the public. People, (usually middle class) who own a pug, and whose friends own nice dogs, automatically assume all dogs are like this and all people treat animals with the same respect that they do. I work in a poor area, I see animal abuse on every corner. Dogs left to die in the heat or cold, chained up to be guard dogs. ESPECIALLY pits. I’m not singling out bully breeds because I believe a dog’s temperament is 95% it’s owner doing. Mistreat a dog and he learns to be anxious and bite out of fear. Leave a dog outside all the time and any dog will be become territorial.
    My point is that law enforcement works in areas were you see diseased, injured, or otherwise not friendly dogs ALL THE TIME. I’ve sprayed a lot of dogs (pepper spray) and most of the time, it works, sometimes, it just makes them angrier. I’ve had to shoot two dogs. And I felt terrible about it for days, but if I get mauled or lose a finger, are you going to pay my medical bills and lost wages?? If I lose a finger on my shooting hand….I’m out of a job AND disabled.
    Three years ago a buddy of mine got 18 stitches and preventative rabies shots from a loose dog, now he doesn’t hesitate.
    We don’t have time when we’re effecting an arrest, to get a dog to trust us, especially when the dog sees us a threat to himself, or his owner. That’s not the Doug’s fault. But it’s also not my fault I have a job to do.
    Bottom line….control your animal. Raise them properly(just like kids). And these incidents won’t happen.
    I’m sorry but I know I speak for all officers when I say,
    “I’m sorry about the dog, but why is going home to my family in one piece so wrong? When’s the last time you were afraid to go to work, because you might not make it home?”

  5. Thank you for this story. I try to remind people that just like the breeds we are fighting so hard to encourage people to treat as indivuduals we need to look at law enforcement the same way. You can’t tell people to ignore sterotypes with your dog if you yourself encourage the sterotypes being hyped by the media.

    I am a 911 dispatcher. Pit bull rescue for 12 years. Trainer and handler of search & rescue and specialty law enforcement search pit bulls. My boyfriend ( a deputy ) and I proudly own 6 pit bulls. Two from neglect surrender cases he worked.