How police can improve public perception of lethal force on domestic animals
Agencies need to acknowledge the public’s perception of puppycide and use it to educate the public about responsible pet ownership
By Mark Bond, American Military University
In Public Safety
Incidents of dogs being shot and killed by law enforcement officers continue to make national headlines. There’s even a term for it, “puppycide,” a term coined by investigative journalist Radley Balko, who reports on the dramatic increase of cases involving police officers killing family dogs.
Many Americans view pets as beloved members of their immediate family, therefore, the emotional reaction when a pet is killed by law enforcement officers is understandable. This all means that officers need to be aware of the public’s perception of the sharp increase in the use of deadly force to subdue animals.
Many citizens perceive the increase in domestic dog killings as over-aggressive officers who are not trained in nonlethal animal control techniques and who resort too quickly to deadly force. To gain the trust and respect of citizens, agencies need to acknowledge the public’s perception of puppycide and use it to educate the public about responsible pet ownership. In addition, agencies need to create training opportunities for officers about nonlethal animal control.