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Tag: fatalities

Bullet-proof logic: Vests protect police dogs

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Of the 139 police dogs killed by guns in the line of duty in the last 40 years, 29 of those deaths were — euphemism alert! — due to “friendly fire.”

That’s according to statistics compiled by the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association, and cited in a Baltimore Sun article yesterday.

vestThe figures weren’t broken down into how many of those “friendly fire” deaths were a result of dogs being caught up in the middle of a gunfight, as opposed to cases of mistaken identity — like the one that led to a Baltimore police dog being shot by an officer he jumped on during a pursuit this week.

But either way, even without adding in the number of injuries, the figures show society could be doing a better job of protecting its police dogs.

On top of the nationwide toll of friendly-fire deaths, and far more common, are police dogs being killed by suspects — as has happened 110 times (with guns) and 25 times (with knives).

So there are really two issues here. One, as evidenced by the case of Baltimore police dog Blade, is whether all police dogs should be distinctly marked as such, by virtue of a vest, collar or other means.

The other, larger one is whether police dogs (and the dogs of the FBI) should be outfitted — like their human counterparts — in bullet-proof vests, something that hasn’t been a priority with municipal officials in Baltimore and lots of other financially-strapped cities.

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