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March 4, 2013 at 9:27 AM
I’m a dog lover, but the Times story about innocent bystanders mauled by police dogs frightened the heck out of me. It is one thing to train K9 dogs to chase suspects and hold them until police officers can catch up and take over. And of course the dogs are going to hold suspects with their teeth, not their soft cuddly paws. But too many mistakes are being made. The cost is high, stemmng from psychological and physical damage to victims and lawsuit-related settleements by police departments.
From the Times story: “Over the past five years, at least 17 people claim they were mistakenly attacked by police dogs from Western Washington law-enforcement agencies. As a result, the agencies have paid nearly $1 million in damages, with several large claims pending.”
The problem: Most U.S. police dogs are trained to dig their choppers into a suspect and hold on tight, releasing only upon orders from their handlers, the story noted. Imagine enduring horrible pain from the sharp canines and powerful jaws of a dog, while waiting for a trailing cop to catch up and order the dog to stand down. Puyallup resident, Mark Roberts, can tell you the experience is much worse than you could ever imagine.
The solution: change U.S. training to better match European techniques where dogs are trained to chase suspects and when they find them, circle and bark. The dog would only bites if the suspect tries to flee or attackes the dog or cop.
The Times story notes that the U.S. Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommend this type of training for U.S. police dogs. So why is there still resistance to “find and bark” method among many law-enforcement agencies?
Photo: Alan Berner/The Seattle Times
February 6, 2013 at 8:08 AM
We welcomed a new immigrant into our home last night: a little dog from South Korea.
She’s in our home on a temporary visa — my husband and I are fostering her on behalf of an animal rescue organization.
Our dog Tia died in October and I wrote about losing her in a column, “We are one city, under dog.” I still think about her, even more with the presence of a new dog. I hope there’s room in my heart for both.
Our foster dog, Peach, was at an animal shelter in South Korea for many months. She has heartworm, which is treatable, but could cause early death. We are taking her to the vet on Saturday to continue treatment. We’ve been told we need to keep her calm because if she gets too excited, she might have a heart attack.
We’re all a little awkward getting to know each other. We don’t speak Korean. She didn’t want to eat dinner. She keeps bumping into chair legs. She has limited vision and needs surgery to pull her eyelashes back, which are curling inward and causing ulcers on her eye.
She already wormed her way into many people’s hearts.
It’s a miracle that she’s here. Animal Rescue Korea posted a notice about her on the Web. They sent an email out to dog rescue groups in the U.S. about her plight. One responded, Mercer Island Eastside Orphans and Waifs (aka MEOW). Volunteers in Korea raised the money to put her on an a plane to Seattle, and the Mercer Island rescue picked her up on Monday night at Sea-Tac. (Here’s a Youtube video of Peach getting picked up at the airport by Kelly Starbuck, the Mercer Island rescue organizer. The video is set to Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America.”)
I hope these miracles happen to people too.