Monday, November 9, 2009

News Reel - Police dog attack on child

This news article is a bit old ... I had originally read it when it was first published and had bookmarked it on my computer with all the good intentions of posting it to my blog. Then I forgot. Yep. That's right. I forgot. It happens. I try to remember everything, but sometimes my brain gets too full and things fall out. I'm posting it now. That means that this one didn't fall out -it was simply put into a filing cabinet in the dark back corner of my head.

The news article is titled Police dog attack on child inspires lawsuit. It was posted on October 15, 2009. Please take a few minutes to read the article. It is slow to load - I don't know why. Just give it a few minutes - go grab a coffee/tea/bathroom-break and then read the article.

This was a well trained police dog who attacked an autistic child; a neighbour. So, why did I post this article? Easy answer for that ...

I want to remind everyone that no matter how well trained our dogs are, they are still dogs. They have instinctual reactions to situations. You can teach them how to react to these situations, but life will always change and give you new ones. It will present new training opportunities and just as we learn new things every day of our lives, so do our dogs.

What we as owners need to do is identify these potential training opportunities and use them to further the eduation of our canine companions.

This was an unfortunate incident. A terrible thing. I hope the young girl can learn to trust dogs and police cars again, but it will likely be a long time before that day. I wish the parents all the luck I can send.


Splash said...

Why does everyone seem to make the assumption that all police dogs are highly trained? The ones in my area are trained by the officers themselves, who may or may not have a lot of experience with dog handling and training.

I'm not implying this dog/handler team was not well trained. I'm just challenging the assumptions we all seem to make.

We all seem to assume that working dogs are always highly trained, and the dogs/handlers we meet on the street are not. I think we all need to be a bit more open-minded, because, really, we don't know.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

You are absolutely right Splash. Everyone assumes that a service dog is a well trained dog.

A well trained dog isn't necessarily trained how to deal with life's curve-balls. Just because he was a member of a police K9 unit doesn't mean he knows how to deal with the child on a scooter.

Training is lifelong. This is a good reminder of that. That's why I wanted to post it.

No matter how well we think our dogs are trained, there will always be the situations that we haven't prepared them for. All we can do is our best, be prepared for the worst and use every situation as a training opportunity that has presented itself.

GoLightly said...

This was human error, it seems to me, and it was a matter of the handler not reading his dog.

It was an unexpected, new situation. Handler didn't see it coming.
He should have.
easy to say, I know. But with a handicapped kid in the neighbourhood, (why was it an electric scooter?)
(Why was she unsupervised?)
Was she riding it on the road?

A well-trained dog is still, a dog, trained to a task. Ready to help out.

You never know what they will react to, except to expect the unexpected. They always do.

Terribly sad story, all the way 'round.

Melissa said...

You're exactly right. Even the most highly trained animals are still animals. They won't be perfect. They don't have a human grasp of 'circumstances', and will sometimes misread them. When a dog trained to attack people makes that mistake, yeah, the result can be really, really bad. I wouldn't pass judgment on this particular situation without a LOT more information (including several years more handling experience), but there's no denying it was a very tragic result.

Splash, I think it's reasonable to assume that police and service dogs are highly trained. From my (limited) general knowledge of the subject and reading Behind the Blue Line (the blog of a K9 officer), my impression is that K9 officers are usually chosen for prior handling experience, and the entire training process is closely supervised by VERY experienced trainers. Police and service dogs are given special privileges and are expected to be very well trained in return. There may be the occasional poorly trained animal, the same as there is an occasional corrupt cop, but it's the exception and not the rule.

You have a good point that we need to not take their status for granted. There's no guarantee that this particular animal is everything a working dog should be, and we should treat them with the same respect and caution as any other animal. Don't crowd personal space, don't tease, don't drop french fries on their nose.

That said, I still think it's reasonable to expect a better class of behavior than the average pet. I'll still be careful not to cause problems, but I'll expect the handler not to cause problems either - an assumption I won't make with a pet.

My sympathies to the girl and her family. I hope the recovery goes as well as possible.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

GoLightly ...

All questions I asked myself. Regardless of how "quiet" the neighbourhood is, I would not trust my child to be out alone on the street (note -- I include sidewalk in "street"). You never know what kind of crazies are in the area. It has nothing to do with whether or not I trust the neighbours or the child.

Melissa ...

I like this comment you made "Even the most highly trained animals are still animals. They won't be perfect. They don't have a human grasp of 'circumstances', and will sometimes misread them."