Bowden Cyr, PLLC - Attorneys At Law

Police dog bites raise questions about K-9 training

Animal bites can cause serious damage, and this is definitely true for bites from trained dogs like those working with Minnesota police departments. In the past two years, one Minneapolis lawyer has had three major cases involving a police dog biting an innocent person near a crime scene. He noted that in these cases, the dog did what it was trained to do. The problem is that the victim was innocent. However, he noted that these cases are often different from residential dog bites in that they cannot truly be considered accidents.

In July, a St. Paul police dog bit a bystander on the forearm after breaking away from its leash and collar. The dog had been participating in a search for a suspect in the area. Officials have noted a need for change in policies after the incident, even though police have continued to say that dogs are partners in law enforcement. However, some question whether police dogs need to be trained to bite and how well training works to curb animal instincts.

Police dogs are used in an array of situations, including drug searches, pursuits and burglaries. Dogs are often faster runners than human police and can chase suspects more effectively. However, critics note that police dogs, lacking human reasoning, are often unable to differentiate between suspects and innocent passersby. In other cases, the dog can be inappropriately used as a weapon by police due to frustration, anger or bias.

Whether a dog bite comes from a K-9 unit or an aggressive neighbor pet, the results can be severe. People can face lifelong disabilities and serious, visible scarring. The victim of an animal attack can work with a personal injury lawyer to hold the owner accountable and seek compensation for damages.

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