California Bill Aims To Reduce Police Shootings Of Dogs

While police officers have access to a dog encounter training DVD, it is not a requirement.

Written by
California Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, (center, kneeling) with constituents who support AB-1199, the Police-Canine Encounters Protection Act. Via Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian
John Virata

If a bill winding its way through California’s state assembly gets signed into law, California peace officers would have to go through mandatory canine encounter training, in an effort to reduce the number of shootings of dogs by peace officers in the state.

The bill, AB-1199, the Police-Canine Encounters Protection Act, introduced by State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-San Fernando Valley) would require Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to develop a training program for peace officers to better handle encounters with dogs.

Training will include:

  • Understanding the behavior and body language of dogs.
  • Tactical considerations and best practices during encounters involving dogs.
  • Safe and appropriate use of non-lethal force in handling dog encounters.

“Police officers want this training and dog owners want this training, it’s a win-win for everyone” Nazarian said in a press release. “Police officers without proper training are too often stuck in a terrible lose-lose situation. We need to proactively train police officers to ensure that they feel safe, and our family dogs are safe.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 10,000 pet dogs are shot and killed by police officers every year, and police encounter dogs on one of every three house calls due to the vast number of pet dogs in the country. Below is a video of a police officer in Meridian, Idaho who was trained in how to handle vicious and potentially dangerous dogs.

It is hoped that the bill, if signed into law, will reduce the number of dog shootings in the state by police officers, and give police officers the tools and training necessary to safely and appropriately use force against dogs.

“Sadly, a dog is shot every 98 minutes by a police officer in the United States. When voted into law, AB 1199, the Police Canine Encounters Protection Act, will require mandatory in-service canine encounter training to California peace officers on how to both quickly and safely respond to unexpected situations when encountering a dog,” said Judie Mancuso, President of Social Compassion In Legislation. “The public has long been demanding canine encounter training, and that time has come.”

Currently police officers going through POST have the option to view the training DVD “Dog Encounters: Keeping Officers Safe.” The DVD however is not mandatory and it is unknown how many officers view the training DVD. AB-1199 is written in hopes that police officers will be better trained to handle dog encounters.

You can read the AB-1199 fact sheet here and the language of the bill here.

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