SPCA offers dog behavior training to Hawthorne Police Department

July 11, 2013

According to a July 10 article in The Daily Breeze, Hawthorne Police Chief Robert Fager has promised to consider dog behavior training being offered them by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Los Angeles.

This training offer comes less than two weeks after a Rottweiler named Max, owned by Leon Rosby, was gunned down by Officer Jeffrey Salmon with the Hawthorne Police Department. This created an outrage within the community, even leading to death threats made against Hawthorne officers.

The training would teach officers how to handle dog situations in a non-lethal manner. This includes how to read body language and also items that can be kept in their patrol cars to deal with dog calls.

There are many options available to officers. Fire extinguishers, catch poles, pepper spray, Tasers and their police stick to name a few. Any of these can be used first to contain a dog without resorting to gunfire.

The SPCA wants to train officers so they will become better disciplined in dealing with family dogs. SPCALA President Madeline Bernstein says the training has been effective for postal workers and meter readers. Both encounter potentially dangerous dogs on a daily basis.

Madeline stated in The Daily Breeze

“Look, sometimes things happen, but the more training you have, the more disciplined you are, the less likely you are to panic.”

After the Hawthorne killing of Max, the SPCALA sent letters to the Hawthorne Police Department, as well as the major, in an effort to prevent another incident resulting in the death of a family dog.

The SPCA believes if officers are trained to look for warning signs, an innocent dog won’t have to die due to an inadequately trained officer. Bernstein stated officers need to learn “the difference between a dog that will attack and one that is agitated.”

Bernstein also points out that police usually don’t have much experience in handling aggressive dogs, and that the dog owner needs to realize this. A good rule of thumb is to consider your dog at risk of being shot anytime police come near it.

In reality, dogs are being shot by police while on a leash, in their own back yard, and sometimes even inside the home. The sooner dog owners learn this, the safer their dogs will be.

Training police officers in dog behavior should rank at the top of the list for police officers. There are far too many dogs being shot because an officer believes his only line of defense is his gun.

It’s good that Hawthorne realizes the need for such training. This training has come too late to save Max, but hopefully, Max will be the last dog shot by a Hawthorne police officer.


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