The ASPCA [American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] believes that most instances of police shootings of dogs are avoidable. The Force Continuum concept has been helpful in reducing unnecessary injuries to the public and professionals in encounters with potentially dangerous people. Law enforcement agencies are recognizing that similar benefits can be gained by applying this concept to encounters with potentially dangerous animals. There are many steps that law enforcement agencies can take to prevent the needless killing of dogs and reduce the high risk of injuries to officers and the general public in such instances . . .
– Establish better communication between area law enforcement and animal care and control agencies, including sharing of information about addresses with histories of calls for violent offenses or dangerous animals and establishing procedures for enlisting assistance from these agencies in planning responses to situations where dogs are known or likely to be present
– Review existing policies and data on dog shootings and institute administrative review of all such shootings that includes an evaluation of their justification
– Provide officers with training in identifying and assessing potentially dangerous dogs, as well as instruction on how to use their existing equipment (e.g. baton, OC spray) more safely and effectively in situations with potentially dangerous dogs
– Provide officers with additional up-to-date equipment that can be used as an alternative to lethal force (e.g. catch poles, nets, etc.) and proper training on its use
– Enact a Force Continuum policy for encounters with dogs, similar to that for encounters with people, that stipulates an escalating scale of options in which lethal force is considered a last resort
– When lethal force must be used, officers should be trained how to do so humanely to prevent or quickly end suffering. The following reflects a policy that is currently in use by several agencies:
“Police officers shall not discharge their firearms at a dog or other animal except to protect themselves or another person from physical injury and when they have exhausted other reasonable means to eliminate the threat. If a decision is made that the animal must be killed, the officer must make every effort to insure that the discharge of his weapon is done as safely as possible. The officer should also try to kill the animal in a humane way to keep the animal from undue suffering or escape.”