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Old 02-10-2020, 09:26 AM
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Can police use deadly force to protect one of their dogs?


Article here: police responded to a disturbance, a perp stabbed their K9 in the head. The dog is expected to survive, but the perp was shot to death by police.

The article does not indicate whether the perp was shot because the officers were defending the dog from further injury by the perp, or because they were defending themselves from imminent knife attack by the perp.

Which raises the question: Are K-9s regarded as police property (akin to a squad car), such that deadly force may not be used to prevent damage? Or are K-9s regarded as fellow officers of sorts, such that human officers are authorized to use deadly force to protect the dogs from felony assault by a perp?

The article quotes the police chief as saying he regarded the dog as "essentially to me...a K-9 police officer..." but this sounds more like an expression of affection/emotion rather than a matter of departmental policy.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:44 AM
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Legal answer? Don't know. Might depend on the state. Practical answer? Yes. Any person who can hurt or kill a dog can hurt or kill an officer and is equally a threat to the officer. There are almost no circumstances in America when police cannot justify using deadly force against you.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:48 AM
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Michigan law does not include police animals under their definition of Peace Officers, which suggests that it may be not be permissible for a police officer to use deadly force to protect them. However, I would guess that the defense of any police officer would just state that they presumed a personal threat to themselves when the assailant attacked the K9.

If a cop sees you banging on the hood of their car with a crowbar while they're on their walk back from the donut shop, they probably don't have the right to shoot you, but they almost certainly do if they're seated inside the car when you do so.
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Old 02-10-2020, 01:24 PM
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This can vary from state to state. In Texas, a K-9 is considered an officer and therefore deadly force can be used to protect the officer.
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Old 02-10-2020, 01:33 PM
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In Illinois, a police dog is considered legally to be a member of law enforcement, and it's a felony to kill or even injure one. Police can use deadly force to protect a police dog under imminent lethal threat just like they can use deadly force to protect the life of a fellow human officer.
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Old 02-10-2020, 01:44 PM
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In most cases, even if the dog is considered property or a tool, its purpose is to protect human officers and civilians from harm, so trying to harm the dog is somewhat analogous to trying to grab an officer's weapon, and that alone provides justification without having to consider the question of the dog's rights.

But the interesting part of the OP is to what extent the dog intrinsically has rights. Posters above claim that Texas & Illinois have addressed that, do you have cites for what the legislation actually says?

And I wonder if we can construct any realistic scenario of engagement that would isolate the dog's intrinsic rights from other considerations? It seems difficult.
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:06 PM
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In Minnesota, the Legislature has passed specific statutes (609.596) defining assault on a police dog, a search and rescue dog, or an arson dog as a felony, (or gross misdemeanor, if the dog is only injured), with penalties significantly higher than would be for 'damage to police property'. Also, the Legislature mandates that a Judge order restitution to cover both veterinary care to an injured dog and purchase & training of a replacement dog -- these can be very heavy costs.
(The next section of MN Statutes is similar, for a horse used in a police or Sheriff Mounted Patrol.)

So clearly the Mn Legislature has decided to treat this more like an attack on a police officer.
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
In most cases, even if the dog is considered property or a tool, its purpose is to protect human officers and civilians from harm, so trying to harm the dog is somewhat analogous to trying to grab an officer's weapon, and that alone provides justification without having to consider the question of the dog's rights.
They aren't really alike at all. If a criminal grabs a police officer's gun, he can kill the officer with it. If a criminal grabs a police dog, the dog will not turn on the police officer.
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:38 PM
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If you read my other posts you know I am completely against cops unreasonably shooting someone.

Let's look at the situation. The perp is crazy enough to take on a police dog in hand-to-paw combat and won. And the perp has a weapon.

Entirely reasonable to shoot him in my book.

Last edited by Saint Cad; 02-10-2020 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:43 PM
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They aren't really alike at all. If a criminal grabs a police officer's gun, he can kill the officer with it. If a criminal grabs a police dog, the dog will not turn on the police officer.
Grab a K9 with a human officer nearby and see what happens. As mentioned above, the human will see themself as your next target, thus justifying deadly force. I doubt a prosecutor or judge would disagree.
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:54 PM
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My department does not have K9s so I have no reason to be an expert on the laws and case law surrounding the issue. I just want to point out in the case cited in the OP it’s not possible at this point to isolate the actions against the dog with the entirety of the situation. It was a domestic violence incident with an armed and violent subject in a house with a hostage. The officers and the hostage were very likely in immediate danger as well.
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Old 02-10-2020, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Tired and Cranky View Post
They aren't really alike at all. If a criminal grabs a police officer's gun, he can kill the officer with it. If a criminal grabs a police dog, the dog will not turn on the police officer.
If you like, assume that someone takes away the LEO's weapon and throws it in a ditch so that nobody can use it, that improves the analogy.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:20 PM
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A bunch of states and the federal govt have laws making it a serious felony to intentionally harm a police dog (or horse). I don't think it necessarily follows though that that gives the police an identical legal right to protect a police dog as a police person. But practically speaking if 'human officers' are in a position to defend a police dog attacked by a perpetrator, that probably means the perpetrator is a threat to them also, or at least they could often argue that.

Laws to protect police dogs are generally crowd pleasers. Main problem I see with special protection for police dogs is where they end up causing other dogs to get shot by the police where the other dog is only defending its territory against an invading dog (the police dog). Both dogs are only doing what they're told or what comes naturally, again thinking of cases where the 'civilian' dog is on its own property not where the owner has let it loose to get in the way of police dogs outside the property, and even that would still be the owner's fault not the dog's. I don't agree with superior rights for police dogs in those situations: a dog's a dog. If the owner is actually using the dog as a weapon that's different, but often not the case.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim@T-Bonham.net View Post
In Minnesota, the Legislature has passed specific statutes (609.596) defining assault on a police dog, a search and rescue dog, or an arson dog as a felony, (or gross misdemeanor, if the dog is only injured), with penalties significantly higher than would be for 'damage to police property'. Also, the Legislature mandates that a Judge order restitution to cover both veterinary care to an injured dog and purchase & training of a replacement dog -- these can be very heavy costs.
(The next section of MN Statutes is similar, for a horse used in a police or Sheriff Mounted Patrol.)

So clearly the Mn Legislature has decided to treat this more like an attack on a police officer.
No, it just means they have decided to treat it differently from crimes against other forms of police property.

It's telling that sec 609.596 is grouped with other sections under the heading "damage or trespass to property", that it comes immediately after a section dealing with criminal damage to property generally and right before sections dealing with assaults on police horses, and exposing domestic animals to disease. The context suggests that attacks on animals are regarded as a species of attacks on property that require special provisions.

Crimes that refer specifically to peace officers are dealt with elsewhere, under the heading "crimes against the administration of justice". Where it's an aggravating circumstance in a "regular" crime that the victim is a police officer, that's dealt with under homicide, crimes against the person, etc.

I see nothing at any point to suggest that attacks on police dogs or horses are in any way assimilated to or analogous to attacks on police officers.

Last edited by UDS; 02-10-2020 at 11:57 PM.
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:27 AM
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http://ashtonandprice.com/assault-po...olice-animals/
However, police animals, such as dogs and horses, are specifically protected under California law.
So that recognizes that that’s more than just a couch. In other words, if you punch a police cruiser, you’re not getting a felony, right? That’s basically just going to be a misdemeanor, probably… because it’s a property crime. But because the law—which I think we need to go more in that direction—recognizes in the case of these animals that they’re more than just an animal, they’re more than just property. They’re starting to be equated more and more with the actual officers. The law basically says punching an animal is like punching an officer, and that’s Penal Code 600 in California. So in California, that would apply if this horse was seriously injured, then you could face two to three years in prison and a significant fine.”

Coach Phil stepped in to ask just how stringent the law is in California. What constitutes an injury warranting a felony charge?
....But a serious injury like shooting a police dog, which happens, or shooting a police horse, that would be a serious injury [warranting a felony charge], but I doubt you would get to a felony level just for punching a horse… But then you start getting into vicarious liability if the horse bucks, and then the officer falls off and gets hurt. There’s a lot of things that can happen to you after that, so just don’t do it.”
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Old 02-12-2020, 04:10 AM
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I would like to note that the abbreviation "K-9" really isn't shorter than the original "Dog". In fact when spoken out loud it is almost twice as long.
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Old 02-12-2020, 07:19 AM
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I would like to note that the abbreviation "K-9" really isn't shorter than the original "Dog". In fact when spoken out loud it is almost twice as long.
Sure, but it sounds more bad-ass.
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Old 02-12-2020, 09:38 AM
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Grab a K9 with a human officer nearby and see what happens. As mentioned above, the human will see themself as your next target, thus justifying deadly force. I doubt a prosecutor or judge would disagree.
Why is this even a question? Who would really expect someone willing to stab a police dog in front of his police handler to NOT get shot by the cop? That's one of those shining examples of "you pays your money, you takes your chances".
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Old 02-12-2020, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by The Librarian View Post
I would like to note that the abbreviation "K-9" really isn't shorter than the original "Dog". In fact when spoken out loud it is almost twice as long.
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
Sure, but it sounds more bad-ass.
Actually, it's a pun on the term 'canine', the biological name for the species containing dogs & wolves.
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Old 02-12-2020, 12:32 PM
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Actually, it's a pun on the term 'canine', the biological name for the species containing dogs & wolves.
It's maybe a pun if we're talking about a time-traveling robot that happens to be vaguely dog-shaped - but for meat-based dogs, it's not a pun, it's a homophone. According to a couple of sources on the web, it goes back to the K9 Corps, founded during WWII as part of the US Army:

http://www.nww2m.com/2012/03/70-year...-canine-corps/

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On March 13th 1942, the efforts of DFD and the war dogs being trained were officially recognized by Colonel Clifford C. Smith, chief of the Plant Protection Branch of the Quartermaster Corps. By the autumn of 1942, the war dog training program had become commonly known as the “K-9 Corps.” The army soon made the title official, designating the unit the “K-9 (Canine) Section.” Other possible designations were “WAGS” or “WAAGS,” but luckily many felt the name too wimpy for the feats they would be asked to do. The Marine Corps liked to call their war dogs “Devil Dogs.” The US Marine Corps initially had a preference for male Doberman Pinchers, and so these dogs became synonymous with the Marines. The “Devil Dog” title was apt since they were well-known for their fighting tenacity.
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Old 02-12-2020, 12:50 PM
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According to a couple of sources on the web, it goes back to the K9 Corps, founded during WWII as part of the US Army:
That seems to be when it became a common term for military dogs and doesn't seem to have been for police dogs prior to that. The clever homophone seems to go back a least a bit further though, there was a brand of dog food 'K-9' in the '30's for example (Google ngram picks up the term back to beginning of 20th century but looking at books seems many at least are paragraph K section 9 etc).
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:47 PM
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Note: Deebo seems to be recovering nicely.

""Deebo appears to be in good spirits and just wants to play with his little brother K9 'Emmett,' however, due to restrictions Deebo cannot play or return to work under the doctor's orders," Saginaw police said...Police Chief Bob Ruth said he is a very popular dog with the community and at the department.

"Everybody loves Deebo."
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Old 02-12-2020, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
It's maybe a pun if we're talking about a time-traveling robot that happens to be vaguely dog-shaped - but for meat-based dogs, it's not a pun, it's a homophone. According to a couple of sources on the web, it goes back to the K9 Corps, founded during WWII as part of the US Army:

http://www.nww2m.com/2012/03/70-year...-canine-corps/
Just noting that in the military that is an outdated and unused term. I’m not sure when it was officially changed but the current term is MWD for Military Working Dog. The current MOS in the Army is 31K and is part of the Military Police Corps.

Last edited by Loach; 02-12-2020 at 07:17 PM.
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