Police dogs are not pets, nor are they the same as other dogs. Many of these athletic canines train to attack.
If you are the target of a police dog, you could be severely injured. You might also experience psychological distress, perhaps fearing dogs and their handlers for the rest of your life.
Our representatives will be happy to schedule your appointment at your earliest convenience. If your injuries prevent you from visiting our offices, our chivalrous attorneys can come to the hospital or your home. Request your free case review today at (866) 909-6894.
How Police Dogs Serve the Community
In movies and television, you might see K9 officers and their dogs run furiously after criminal suspects. In a short time, the canine pursuers catch up, tackling and biting to subdue the pursued. Finally, their handlers arrive to handcuff and arrest the perpetrators.
In real life, some law enforcement officers use dogs to pursue and apprehend fugitives. Yet, police dogs might have many other duties, such as:
- Guarding: Protecting people and property, alerting their owners to danger
- Searching and rescuing people: Locating missing people or casualties
- Detecting: Finding drugs, explosives, or other items
Law enforcement agencies should train their dogs or hire others to teach the animals essential skills to carry out their responsibilities. Not every dog is suitable for police work.
German or Dutch Shepherds and the Belgian Malinois, known for their intelligence and keen sense of smell, are commonly used breeds. After intense training, all law enforcement dogs should be:
- Alert and reactive
- Eager to please
K9 officers must also undergo specialized training to handle, communicate with, and socialize their canine partners. Simulations and exercises help prepare the handler to make the right decisions in real-life scenarios.
Attacks on Innocent Victims That Should Never Happen
When properly trained and handled, a canine officer is like a tool. Suppose their human counterpart needs to catch someone. Since dogs run faster than people, the dog can catch and hold a suspect until the police officers arrive to take over the arrest.
One technique to make canine-assisted arrests is called “bite-and-hold.” The process should be strictly controlled. The dog should not pursue random passersby or continue to bite after receiving a “release” command.
In some circumstances, law enforcement agencies warn others of the presence of K9 units. You might see K9 markings on their uniforms or vehicles. Officers might also tell subjects that dogs will be released if they do not surrender immediately.
Yet, what happens if an officer or his or her animal is not adequately trained? What about humans who misuse their canine “tools,” turning them into dangerous “weapons?”
Dogs attack civilians.
Police dogs bite innocent bystanders for many of the same reasons pet dogs attack. Bites occur because of:
- Misdirected aggression
- Being startled or afraid
- Feeling threatened or overly excited
- Protecting the owner or a possession that is valuable to them (e.g. food, toys)
- Being sick or injured
In New Jersey, dogs should be kept on a leash in public unless in a pet park or other location where free roaming is permissible. For searches and other duties, the dog usually works on a lead. Otherwise, police dogs generally should be on leash unless in active apprehension of someone resisting arrest.
Unjustified dog attacks take place when handlers misidentify suspects. In other words, humans may make a mistake, causing their dogs to bite the wrong people.
In other cases, dogs take the initiative. They attack without a command from their owner. Civilians could suffer severe injuries due to the animal’s wrong judgment.
Victims sustain unnecessarily severe dog bite injuries.
Law enforcement officers rely on verbal and visual commands to apprehend suspects. For example, an officer might yell for someone to drop a weapon or put his or her hands in the air. They might gesture where the person should go or that they should get down on the ground.
Physical reactions beyond those necessary to gain or maintain control of a potential threat are “excessive force.” This term applies when handlers deploy a dog against someone who is not fleeing or delay commanding a dog to release.
Police protocol often requires the following continuum of force:
- Presence: Using a professional and authoritative demeanor to deter criminal acts or diffuse tense situations
- Verbal commands: Calm, short orders, sometimes with increasing volume
- Physical restraint: Soft (e.g. grabs, holds, and joint locks) or hard (e.g. punches and kicks) bodily force to restrain someone
- Less-than-lethal force: Methods to immobilize or restrain someone, such as police dogs, baton strikes, chemical sprays, and tasers
- Deadly force: Firearms or other deadly weapons used to stop dangerous actions
If the individual cooperates, why should there ever be a need to use physical force? Once the person is in custody, perhaps with handcuffs, why would an officer punch, hit, or give an unwarranted bite command to a police dog?
Dogs bite about 4.6 million people every year in the United States. Most are minor nips, but some require emergency room visits and reconstructive surgeries. The worst bites, about 10 to 20 cases yearly, result in death from the attack or deadly infections.
Ordinary domestic dogs, pets or strays, can inflict severe injuries. However, research shows that police dogs often:
- Bite multiple times
- Cause more hospitalizations, operations, and invasive diagnostic exams
- Strike vulnerable areas like the head, neck, chest, and flank
The study concludes police dog bites cause more severe injuries than domestic dog bites, due to their specialized training and breed characteristics. In a few tragic cases, dogs ignore verbal release commands. Officers might even have to physically pull the dog away, sometimes worsening the victim’s injuries in the process.
Get Legal Help After Dog Attack
At Judd Shaw Injury Law, our lawyers believe all should know their rights and legal options. Yet, dog bite cases are often subject to a complex array of federal and state laws. As a dog bite victim, you do not need to try to decode these confusing regulations alone.
We can help you understand the New Jersey deadlines that restrict how long you have to file. Once we investigate your case, our attorneys can take steps to defend your right to compensation, which could include the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost pay
- Pain and suffering damages
- Wrongful death settlements
Without good advice, you could make a decision that you will later regret. We don’t want that to happen, so our consultations are free.
You are under no obligation to hire us after your appointment. Our goal is to get you the information you need to make a wise decision about your future.
Guarantee Your Peace of Mind: Call Today
After a traumatic experience, you might have many fears and doubts. The physical and emotional pain can make doing anything challenging.
Asking for support, though, is not weak. Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, and our compassionate lawyers are ready to fight a tough battle for you.
With our experience and resources on your side, you could get results beyond your highest expectations. You will not owe us anything until we win your case, so there is no need to stress about affording our quality legal assistance.
Our attorneys are ready to stand up for your rights. Securing our aggressive and effective representation is easy. Contact us any hour of day or night to schedule a free consultation. Call (866) 909-6894, start an online chat with us, or visit our New Jersey office.