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Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters

NCJ Number
Cynthia Bathurst, Ph.D.; Donald Cleary; Karen Delise; Ledy VanKavage, Esq.; Patricia Rushing, Ed.D.
Date Published
August 2011
52 pages
This publication guides police agencies in policy development and training for the police management of dog-related incidents and encounters.
The guide discusses the tools, practices, and procedures that contribute to effective responses to dog-related incidents and encounters. The guide's primary goals include ensuring public and officer safety, along with community needs and demands. Although dog-related incidents and encounters may also be related to inhumane care and animal cruelty (including animal-hoarding and dog-fighting), this guide does not directly address them. Each of those requires its own analysis and response. An officer may encounter a dog in a wide variety of situations. Most often, officers are called to respond to situations in which dogs are central to issues of public safety. These include incidents associated with reckless dog owners and serious dog-related incidents or threats to public safety; loose or stray dogs that may be perceived as threats to public safety; and disputes between neighbors that involve dogs. Other dog-related incidents include traffic incidents. Officers may be called to respond to traffic incidents in which dogs are in the car or have been injured; and officer may have to manage dogs present at the scene of a residential call. In order to acquaint police officers with relevant statistics on dog-related incidents, data are provided on dog bites and the dog breeds involved (serious bites are relatively rare and not related to particular breeds). The guide notes that problem behaviors by dogs are related to owners' handling of the dogs. Examples of poor dog-owner management are described. Data are also presented on the frequency of dog shootings by police. A chapter provides guidance on how police analyze local problems with dogs, followed by a chapter on general considerations for an effective response strategy and specific responses to dog-related incidents. 7 suggested readings and 21 notes