Police officers shoot and kill dogs—usually dogs that don't pose a threat—much more often than you might think. The stories are heartbreaking: the family dog shot in a fenced yard after officers entered without notice. The dog shot after it had already been subdued and was being held with a catch-pole. The 13-year-old dog shot even though it was confined to the bathroom. The 12-pound miniature dachshund shot after it growled at an officer. These officers are said to be "following policy," but "that's precisely the problem," writes A. Barton Hinkle in Reason.
"Police officers receive extensive training about the use of force when it is applied against humans. But how many departments provide training on dealing with pets? Very few," Hinkle writes. And these aren't infrequent, isolated incidents. In Milwaukee alone, officers killed about one dog every eight days over the course of nine years. A Justice Department paper reports that "the majority of [police] shooting incidents involve animals," and the dogs involved are rarely dangerous—or, even if they are, the bites are so minor they cause no injury at all or no medical care. It's time for officers to "receive training in safe and non-lethal methods of animal control—and in dog behavior." Click for Hinkle's full column.