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46 thoughts on “Lafayette PD Video: We Are All in Trouble When Trained Police K-9s Attack the Head, Neck Regions of Unarmed Suspects

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  1. First, quote snip title of this valuable study: “We Are All in Trouble When Trained Police K-9s Attack…” Yes. Any time a human being is in proximity to a dangerous canine, the human being is at risk of grave threat. Period.

    Next: I recall national news stories about how police K-9 handlers are forced to be required to shoot their own trained K-9s when their own K-9 attacks its own handler. These news stories are full of lots of content relating to how the officer grieves the loss of his partner, because of the strong emotional bond that he formed with it. Yet, despite the strong emotional feelings for his K-9, the officer is forced to shoot his dog. It appears that such emotional bonding is unilateral, and not mutual, as evidenced by the way that the K-9s savagely attack their handlers.

    Next: I have resided continuously for 26 years ten miles from Prescott Valley, in Prescott, so I am painfully fully aware of full, complete local societal and local legal sentiment strongly in favor of dangerous dogs, and I am painfully fully aware of local societal and local legal sentiment strongly against victims of fully fearsome attacking dogs.

    My feedback on the Lafayette Police Department K-9 neck attack. “Was this dog properly deployed on Bailey?” No. Because: “Was this excessive force?” Yes. Because the officers could have removed him from the moped without resorting to grave body harm force. “Should the officer have been promoted two months after the attack?” No.

    I will mention that known cases where trained police K-9s cause unwanted and excessive injury number among the small minority. Most such cases are unknown, because they go unreported by official sources and because they go unreported by news media sources and therefore are never brought to public attention.

    Thank you, Colleen, for bringing this under color of law grave threat to attention, via your exhaustive work.

    • We can also assume it is pervasive based on how hard it is to get bite data from police agencies. The Level 1 trauma studies do have some of this data. 22% of all injuries treated at a Level 1 trauma in Fresno, CA for orthopaedic injuries secondary to dog bites were inflicted by K-9s. That is 1 in 5 of these patients: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29912736/ Level 1 trauma studies in Seattle (Prendes, 2016) and Sacramento (O’Brien, 2015) state about 8% of all people treated for dog bite injuries were K-9 bite injuries. In both cases, K-9 bites were higher than all bites by Labradors, rottweilers, and other top-biting breeds. Only bites inflicted by pit bulls were higher than K-9 bites. https://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-index-nonfatal-dog-bite-injury-studies.php

  2. And, of course, there’s the Birmingham police department’s use of dogs against peaceful civil rights protestors back in the 1960s.

  3. Holy sh*t. They’re allowed to use potentially lethal force on belligerent drunks now? Drunk driving is a crime, but compare the damage this guy could have done on a MOPED compared to the average SUV.

    Was the dog properly deployed? Heck no! IMHO, the dog should have been shot the minute it latched on to the guy’s neck. Seriously, that hold should be a death sentence for any police dog.

    Excessive force? Yes. It’s stupid to argue with cops and it’s stupid to drive drunk, but this is the equivalent of being shot or stabbed for mouthing off.

    Should the handler have been promoted? No. Police are supposed to PROTECT and Server. Sh*t happens, but a responsible cop would have got the dog off when it latched on to the guy’s neck, even if it meant killing it.

    As a stock dog owner, it stuns and terrifies me how little control the handlers have over these dogs in most of the video links above. I wouldn’t have my dogs on livestock if I had that poor a ‘handle’ on them for fear of injuring the livestock, and these cops are using bigger, more aggressive dogs on humans.

  4. I remember seeing info on a couple of dog attacks in Canada when the K9s were released to seek a suspicious person but found an innocent bystander and mauled them. Another risk of aggressive dogs.

  5. The videos on this post are heartwrenching. So painful to watch that I could not watch all of them. In the three I did watch, the suspects were clearly surrendered and standing or sitting still when out of nowhere the dogs attack. Seeing how a mallnois bites, holds, shakes, and pulls makes it clear this is not a good breed for this type of work. Police units all but moved away from GSDs citing back and hip issues from jumping in and out of resulting in these dogs not lasting as long in service. The GSD had been a safer choice.

    BLM focuses on police brutality in regards to firearm and choking deaths. Maybe the movement should be aware of the injuries caused by these dogs.

    • GSDs, Bouviers and Dobes are far better choices IMO. Malis are too high drive and once turned ON they often won’t turn OFF. The problem with GSDs was the hip dysplasia. They can’t scale a fence or run overtop of a car etc. They need to be bred out, then bred back for health, like pointers were but then the breed clubs would go into melt down.

      Remember, it’s all about the money?

      The problem with Bouviers and Rottweilers are, although they are far more temperamentally suited in many cases, they tend to be “one-person” dogs and it is costly to train a dog where it needs to be with the handler from puppyhood (or at least 10-11 months) and trained with the handler for another year to get the best result. And then, it may wind up being temperamentally unsuited and all that money is down the crapper.

      This is about maximizing profit from these dogs with the least amount of effort. It isn’t about the safety of the officers, considering how many wind up getting mauled by their own dogs.

      • Today’s GSDs — and I think this applies to both American and European lines — are significantly heavier than the early generation GSDs, which were about the size of today’s Mals.

        Photo of a German Shepherd in 1925. Note how lean the dog is.

        https://poespantry.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/sgr-1925-ch-us-klodo-vom-boxberg.jpg

        I’m not sure if the bulking up of GSDs is responsible for the hip problems. Aside from that (or, in addition to that), the roachback look has been an unnecessary and terribly ruinous direction in which to breed these dogs.

        Well-trained K9s are very expensive. I don’t know what kind of budget local PDs have, but I hope they are not cutting corners up front trying to get less-than-well-trained K9s on the cheap. Because ultimately it costs more in the long run to pay out on lawsuits.

  6. Thanks for covering one of my favourite rant topics Colleen!

    Been saying that protection dog handling practises are horrifying for *decades*. These dogs are being used as substitute weapons and ego massagers, not lifesaving tools.

    The point of a dog, is disarming/diversion/psychological threat to ensure the handler’s safety.

    There is absolutely NO reason to deploy the dog *until* the handler is at risk. Then, if it is properly trained, it will go straight for the weapon hand, accomplishing 2 things. 1) disarming+holding 2) creating a diversion to allow the handler time to respond. In the case of someone running away *with a weapon* the dog can knock down+hold until the handler can arrive.

    As for crappy dog training practises, unless a dog will OUT 100% of the time (toys, food etc) it shouldn’t begin training for bite work. A well-trained dog doesn’t *bite* until told or the handler is incapacitated. It should be trained to “watch” (meaning bark and look menacing) which does NOT mean to attack.

    Trainers have forgotten the basics and if you can’t instil those because as a trainer you are incompetent or the dog is just too stupid and/or temperamental–that dog should be flunked, even if it is a 10k Mali.

    Again, it’s all about the money. Don’t kid yourselves. Trainers charge big dollars for these dogs with zero guarantee of the dogs’ resultant behaviour. Then, there’s zero guarantee the dog handler will abide by the consistency of training that the trainer worked to instil.

    Again, the good ol’ trainers before toy addictions and cookie wavers–had this right. Go back to Barbra Woodhouse (who, hilariously enough trained Great Danes for police work, none of which every hospitalised a target) and Kohler who *knew* the dangers of the dogs he trained and knew most dogs were *not* naturally inclined to be good at this job as they’d buckle or overreact under the pressure.

    There are buckets of articles about cadaver dogs that can’t find a corpse in a graveyard and drug sniffers that can’t tell the difference between bacon and bennies. It would be hilarious except for the poor arrested sods that are the brunt of this canine incompetence.

    Police/protection work is not a good fit for 90% of large dogs, even those bred for it. Nobody in their right mind would buy/train a protection dog and think it’s a pet–until YouTube came along with dog trainers selling protection dogs for tens of thousands of dollars.

    I knew one that was banging them out at 5-10k after 6 weeks training. That’s barely enough training to pass a basic obedience trial at the CKC.

    Thanks to technology there are far better methods of doing many kinds of work than using a dog. Don’t get me wrong, I trained them and worked with them for years but I respect them and I saw what happened when handling was about ego as well as the bond of a really good dog partner.

    Police, in general now, have been overly militarized and have proven time and time again, they are too unstable to handle even basic weapons. Time to take away their lethal toys (except for SWAT teams) and that includes dogs. The taxpayers shouldn’t be having to pay out pantloads of wrongful death/maiming suits because the police department/unions are afraid of cleaning house.

    TLDR; Protection dogs are often trained like crap and handled by unstable officers. Stop it.

    • Police dogs in the USA get most of their training overseas. Training is only finished in the USA. The dogs are supposed to stay with their handlers for, I think, six weeks. I doubt if this always occurs.

      Police also use dogs which are half GSD and half Malinois. A local dog whose handler was killed was half GSD/half Malinois.

      When police officers shoot their own dogs, the dogs are usually out of control Malinois.

  7. After watching numerous videos on YouTube now where the officers cannot get the dogs off I am left with one question.

    When the dog didn’t OUT on the first command, why did they not HANG THE DOG until it let go?

    This is something pitbull owners never do during attacks, either. FFS a dog that cannot breathe will let go and won’t reject the OUT command next time. Did the dog trainer not tell them this?

    Yeah it’s mean. No kidding. But these are serious dogs mauling people. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

    • San Diego PD (naked man attack) has endured a number of civil lawsuits. So much so, they apparently stopped using the Out command. Did you notice in the red car video how officer is kind of hanging the dog? https://youtu.be/_KkKK6SLQYY “The dogs also aren’t trained to release on a verbal command. Instead, officers are taught to apply pressure to release the canine’s jaw, to ensure they’re always in control. It’s also done to lessen the chances of a second bite.” SDPD actually changed protocol. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/sd-me-police-dog-20170712-story.html

      • Colleen:

        I suspect that they stopped using OUT because the dogs are so inadequately trained that they’re afraid if the target shouts OUT…the dog will release instead of only responding to the handler. Which is what happens when there are several handlers (sometimes including the bite sleeve target) that can command the dog. Does that video look like it “lessened the chances of a second bite”? (can you hear my eyes rolling at the statement by SDPD?)

        Contrary to what it appears to the normal eye in that video– grabbing the dog by the collar at the sides and shaking it is also a technique called “agitating the dog” and the reason is to *excite the dog to bite harder* not to force a release. It doesn’t choke the dog, it encourages it. Pitbull owners make this error all the time on video during maulings.

        It was a common technique with dog trainers a few decades ago although I can’t say that with the use of clatter sticks for agitation, that it’s still common. The principle remains, though.

        IMO this handler is either panicking, doesn’t understand that he is exciting the dog, or is making a show of releasing the dog while agitating it. I can’t speak to his motivation.

        He had several options at this point. Grab the back legs of the unleashed dog and wheelbarrow it in a circle so it scrambled for balance and dropped the man (won’t always work on pitbulls, works on other large breeds)…or use a leash/handle and haul the dog straight up, all four feet off the ground.

        Note that he can’t seem to get the dog off until he turns his back to the camera. At that point, he may have pulled straight up, strangling it to force the release because from what I can see, the dog is much higher in the air than it is while he is agitating it. The leash seems to be caught underneath the poor fellow the dog is mauling.

        The dog is poorly trained, as is the officer–unless he’s a brute.

        Using dogs for protection work this way is, as far as I’m concerned, is overtly abusive to the dog and dangerous to humans. I’m not surprised that dogs handled in this manner keep mauling their handlers and anyone else they can get a grip, on.

        Here is a similar (new style) dog training video, speaking about agitation by soft choking the dog.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QlZZ3309lw

  8. This is a story for 60 Minutes. I’m old enough to remember peaceful civil rights protesters being attacked by these dogs. We see from the videos, it’s still happening. In our dog worship culture, people only want to hear feel good stories about canines. All we ever hear about is police dogs being “heroes.” (I hate that over-used term.) I remember years ago, my docile Golden nicking her ear, and how she started licking her own blood. She became almost frantic with the taste of it. It’s a primal instinct that kicks in. These attack dogs are clearly excited by the taste of blood. How many Black people have been victims of this kind of overkill? Again, a story for 60 Minutes to consider.

    • Bingo. You nailed it, Terry. At the root of this and so many of our problems is the dog worship culture.

      Until dogs are put back in their proper place — they’re unpredictable animals and NOT humans — we’ll continue to experience attacks, maulings, and fatalities.

  9. Thanks for covering this topic. It’s an important one, and another case of dogs bred for completely useless and destructive behaviors, then placed in the hands of the people least able to control their own worst instincts. I haven’t watched the videos yet, but remember the news footage of guard dogs being set on protestors (by a private agency, not police) a few years ago at the Dakota pipeline. It was so obviously low-quality dog handling. Something about aggression and bitework is just toxic with many people; they lose their damn minds.

  10. Terry, This is just ONE recent example from BLM where the dog is clearly agitated, the officer is refuses to get the dog under control it so lunges out and grabs a protester. If you go to hashtag “bluefall” on twitter, they have many more.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzYOpaaxtAA

    That’s what happens when you’re armed with a soft drink. /s

    Just search Police Dogs and Protests and watch how wound up the dogs are. A good dog would be calm, awaiting commands. Watch how often when police are walking their K9s the dogs are *not* heeling. If a handler is so incompetent that the dog will not even do a basic heel, they are not competent enough to handle one that will attack on command.

    • Boni, You always give such great examples when you make a point. So much wisdom here. Also, courage on Colleen’s part. I believe that a well-trained dog is a good dog. (Rude kids are no fun either. 🙂 You brought up heeling. I trained all my dogs to heel. I’ve noticed with pit bulls especially, they’re usually dragging their owners behind them. Heeling seems to have gone out of style across the board. Owners don’t understand the whole alpha thing. As you observed, these police dogs are locked & loaded….incredibly amped up. Even their handlers can’t handle them!

      • Heeling and use of chokers has gone out of style. I trained dogs with choke chains as they are and effective tool. Thirty plus years ago, I associated using a harness with puppies or dogs too young for a collar/choker and with seeing eye dogs. Now, every dog wears a harness and sled dogs its owner down the stress. Without the choker, the handler loses a lot of control.

        • Christy, thanks for the information. I remember using a more gentle choke collar (not spike ones) at training sessions. It got to the point where just the quick pull and noise would make my dog heel. Once trained, my dogs would heel with a regular leather collar. I often see pits in spiked collars and still dragging the person down the street. Of course, in so many attacks they bolt…collar or no collar.

  11. Police dogs in the USA get most of their training overseas. Training is only finished in the USA. The dogs are supposed to stay with their handlers for, I think, six weeks. I doubt if this always occurs.

    Police also use dogs which are half GSD and half Malinois. A local dog whose handler was killed was half GSD/half Malinois.

    When police officers shoot their own dogs, the dogs are usually out of control Malinois.

  12. The most studied jurisdiction (and last era of violence) was Los Angeles County, 1989-1995. That sheriff’s K-9 department did an overhaul in 1992. “Variables were compared before and after a change in K-9 police policy from the “bite-and-hold” to the “find-and-bark” technique or stricter controls were instituted over the K-9 teams.” https://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(97)70253-1/pdf At least one study since has stated bite-and-hold resulted in fewer bites, which is as misleading as the term itself, as bite-and-hold (which suggests “singular”) is not and often results in multiple bites (bite, regrip, bite, regrip, etc). During the LA study period of bite-and-hold, 58% of patients had three or more bites. The absolute dearth of modern data is what complicates this issue even more today. There cannot be reform without data, and data must also be measured in severity.

    Here is an editorial from LA during the 1992 period: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1992-02-09-tm-3238-story.html

    • Maybe I’m an idiot, or old-school or something but this is very simple to me.

      If the target does not have a weapon or attack the handler directly, the dog should not bite. Period. Running away in fear shouldn’t result in a person being maimed for life.

      There are a number of useful commands for such situations such as body slamming a running suspect that don’t make the dog an unhinged lunatic that has to be abused to stop doing what it was trained to do.

      It’s either that or get rid of them.

      Anything less is animal abuse and cruelty to humans.

  13. This petition was sent in after we published: Establishing a Michigan Statewide Standard for Training and Utilizing Police K-9’s. We do not know how many states have universal statewide standards. This is something that had not occurred to us (the bias/conflict of interest in passing dogs), “Currently, there are vast differences in training and certification across the state of Michigan. Many of those who do the training and certifying have conflicts of interests. There are clubs that promise high membership with low failure rates even though the dogs are not meeting certification. Some trainers see a dog’s failure as a reflection of their ability and will pass the dog even though it has not met their own certification. Unethical vendors pass dogs even though they are not fit for certification because a failure rate would mean a financial loss.”
    https://www.change.org/p/michigan-legislator-law-commitee-establishing-a-michigan-statewide-standard-for-training-and-utilizing-police-k-9-s

    • There’s the nail on the head right there Colleen. The dogs have no standard training because it impacts the dollars.

      It’s like training trials. The standards have been lowered to keep the money rocketing in from the clueless. Always trained in arenas and controlled areas. Proves absolutely nothing as 90% of dog training should be devoted to proofing the dog against distractions so it is safe in a social environment.

      The sad part is, the failing dogs might be perfectly suited to do something else with the correct retraining (such as cage release or property guards) the same way failed seeing eye dogs are often amazing companion dogs.

  14. Terry and Christy:

    This video literally made me cry. Because truly, “Positive” trainers have replaced corrections and love with food and shouting and cheap pet shop gimmicks–which is why dogs are all nervous, confused wrecks. The video put its finger on a problem I couldn’t quite describe.

    Thought you two folks might like it. The comment section is also enlightening.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU-BtaVxQMY

    (sorry, a bit off topic Colleen)

    • I can’t pretend to know anything about how a police dog or a service dog is trained. But that video, the first method, the German method that was what I learned when I took a dog to an old-fashioned obedience class. It was work. It was very effective. I remember when I saw people training their dogs with treats. I found this confusing and I found fat dogs. Later, use of a clicker followed by a treat became popular. It was touted as the way Seaworld trains the sea mammals. We all know how that turned out.

      • Christy:

        You mean you didn’t get dragged down the street by a dog in a harness while you waved bacon bits around as it mangled the neighbour’s poodle and then their granny? You paid for some cheapo course that didn’t last for years and worked in a month or so because the instructions were simple and clear?

        Your dog actually learned to pay attention to you and follow commands so your walking experience was calm and pleasant?

        You Troglodyte! You didn’t read the “science”! (paid for by pet snack and leash companies)

        Hush Woman! Yer grievously cuttin’ into a bizness model of stringing along clueless, sentimental owners for months until the inevitable lawsuit by said murdered poodle’s owner and their granny’s estate.

        Stop that. #TooMuchCommonSense

  15. I am often left sickened and saddened when I read comments like “good dog” etc. after a police dog has severely mauled the face/neck of an escaped shoplifter or other very mild crime. I always thought the K9 unit dogs only attacked arms or legs? Since when are these powerful, attack TRAINED dogs allowed to maul throats?

    • Colleen, that’s Email?

      Cuz I’ve been coming across several maulings PER DAY across North America. Mostly I send the ones that are grievous for other reasons. Or the out and out killings.

      • Hi Boni, Yes, that is email. Of 40 hospital admission severe maulings per day in the USA, only very few are reported to the public. I email some of them to Colleen. Also, I see that you are very knowledgeable in this area, your posts are very informative. 🙂

        • Thanks Richard. I look forward to your posts, as well.

          Wow. Just Wow. Perhaps an Excel sheet tracking those would produce another set of stats?

          When people say “BSL doesn’t work” the fact is, even followed up rarely (as in Ontario) *it helps*. It means that Pitbull owners are aware that one bite, and their dog is euthanized, no second chances–causing them to act more carefully although they still refuse to muzzle their dogs.

          Dog bites rarely get reported here, at all, either unless something is odd about the story. Occasionally, someone with good media contacts might get a story in about how their dog died in the jaws of a dog but when I was dog training–I heard about it a lot more back then. It wasn’t uncommon to work with dog-aggressive (not murder dogs) dogs (and fix them) but it was *nothing* like today’s prevalence where it seems that every second dog is “leash reactive”–which means people handling or near the dog are all at risk, as well. For me, the question becomes “what changed”? That comes down to genetics, amount of inexperienced dog owners, how the dogs were purchased, and then, the handling/treatment of those dogs.

          Police/protection dogs are far more prevalent in some places as well as training has changed. The dogs are under greater pressure and less able to handle that pressure calmly due to training them to be excited by their *performance*, rather than obedient to commands.

  16. We also have many good commenters! You might consider a guest post (under a name that you choose) for issues that are important to you. Send in your ideas to info–at–dogsbite.org. We love to publish guest posts!

    • Protection trained dogs are potentially deadly weapons. They are NOT pets or public relations fodder. It’s time they were treated as such–instead of attacks being palmed off as any different than either shooting, or furiously beating someone with a sidehandle.

      When looked at that way, it’s easier to see when they should be deployed, and when they should not.

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