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Click on the links below to view two stories about recent police K9s who have died useless, completely preventable, deaths.

ASCT is not involved with training or certification of these agencies or handlers. If ASCT did certify these handlers, both of them would not be eligible for another police K9 due to their neglect.

It’s sad when police dogs die in the line of duty. It really is. But it’s atrocious when dogs die because their trusted handlers make errors in judgment, errors they certainly were trained to avoid. At some point there will likely be a memorial established for these dogs and how they died in service for the citizens. But they didn’t. They died because of neglect.

Let’s review them:

In this first case, it’s simply a matter of inattentiveness. Ask any dog owner in America what you must be careful of when a dog is in a car and the answer is HEAT! Why would anyone leave a dog in a hot car? Okay, I understand this officer didn’t expect the car to get THAT HOT. It wasn’t extremely hot when he left the dog to enter the building. But common training (and common sense) tells one that anytime a dog is in a car and the handler leaves (even for a brief period) the dog must have adequate air circulation. I personally require my handlers to keep windows down even in cool weather. Why? Because a closed vehicle will pressurize quickly and even a warm day will overheat the dog. A hot day - well that basically bakes a dog’s brain.

And for the agency…there’s something called a heat sensor that signals the inattentive handler that his dog is baking. Chances are, the agency simply didn’t want to put out the money for dog safety and buy a relatively inexpensive heat sensor - shame.

If this situation involved a child instead of a dog - this officer would be in custody instead of condolences.

In the next case, the handler used his door popper to release the dog and allow the dog to come to his assistance. Wake up people! The door openers do not replace you. They are used in emergency situations where the officer is down and cannot return to his vehicle. This handler wasn’t thinking. Who knows? Maybe he was trained to do this. Now that would be ridiculous. Regardless, it’s the handler’s responsibility - NOT THE OFFICERS WHO SHOT THE DOG. Those guys were protecting themselves.

Handlers must prevent laziness. This handler should have either taken his dog to the house or left his position and returned to get the dog. Now, in defense of this handler, the dog WAS coming in the house. But when the door closed, the dog headed off to other directions. Again though, this handler should have made sure that the dog could reach his position safely. It’s police K9 101 - MAKE SURE THE DOG CAN REACH YOUR POSITION SAFELY BEFORE YOU CALL HIM FROM THE VEHICLE.

Another problem here is that there apparently was no radio contact between the handler and the arriving officers who shot the dog. Radios are there for usage. A simple - “Hey guys be aware I am releasing my do to come into the house.” would have let those guys know that the dog they saw was not the resident dog but the agencies own partner. Of course, wouldn’t it seem reasonable that those guys would know their own agencies police dogs and every dog with local agencies? Doesn’t that seem obvious? It does to me and I have trained police K9s for nineteen years. I thought I’d seen and heard it all. Apparently not.


1. Police K9 handlers are responsible for their canine partners.

2. Police handlers take action that must consider the safety of their dogs. Anything less is an atrocity.

3. Trainers are responsible for educating their students on the aspects of K9 safety.

4. SAFETY first is the most important aspect to ANY law enforcement training.

5. Police agencies must hold handlers accountable for maintaining dog safety.

6. Certification organizations are responsible for enforcing animal care precautions, guidance, education, and required restrictions involving the safety of police K9s.

7. Handlers must be held responsible for their actions. Police K9s depend on their handlers

8. Dogs cannot talk, open windows, use the radio, and write letters. Dogs cannot communicate the way handlers sometimes wish they could.

9. Police K9 units must have adequate ventilation at all times.

10. Never call your dog from the vehicle unless you are positive that the dog can see you and SAFELY get to you.

11. Always announce your intentions to your fellow officers. The other officers may have not been paying attention when you gave that agency-wide - in-service - and introduced your dog.

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