72.9 million US households report to having at least one pet – that means one in every 5 American has a dog, cat or other pets. These days, more and more household treat pets like a family, and a pet’s death is just as devastating as losing a family member.
Today’s esteemed speaker is John Thompson from the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA). He is NSA’s Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. John’s been involved in public safety for almost five decades. Most currently, his advocacy led him to spearhead a movement within public safety to prevent animal abuse. This led to the creation of the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals and the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse.
On today’s course, John will talk about the horrible reality when dogs become victims and casualties to crimes or law enforcement operations. Some of the specifics he tackled on the webinar are:
- Statistics on pet population within the US, the costs of having them and dog deaths involving law enforcement.
The reasons why officers shoot dogs and videos that demonstrate how each of these happen in real life.
- Shootings due to culture and department policy where entrenched societal beliefs and culture causes police officers to view dogs as property and easily dispensable.
- Shootings due to a lack of training and understanding of the behavior of dogs, their importance to the family, and logistics planning for raids, searches or arrests when dogs are present.
- Shootings due to inherently nefarious individuals who become part of law enforcement.
- Shootings due to fear – whether real, perceived, or brought about by a phobia that causes a police officer to be defensive around dogs.
Consequences of bad dog shootings like:
- Financial damages paid to the family of the dogs shot that becomes costly for the agency and the community.
- Human casualties when a person is accidentally shot instead of a dog.
The efforts and initiatives of the public safety field on dog shooting and animal abuse in general.
- The establishment of The National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA) that seeks to raise awareness and train law enforcement officers.
- The creation of the Law Enforcement Dog Encounters Training (LEDET) virtual reality simulator that assists law enforcement officers to better handle encounters with dogs.
John clarified the audience’s inquiries and comments related to:
- Raising the issue of animal abuse to the leadership
- Animal control officers
- Training dispatchers to confirm the presence of animals
- Partnering with local dog trainers for the law enforcement training
- Including catch poles in officers' standard equipment
- The effect of pepper spray on dogs
- The behavior of officers who shot dogs
- Including working with dogs to the basic Academy training