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Tag: law enforcement

Of Dogs and Men: Documentary examines epidemic of dog shootings by police officers

A new documentary brings attention to an epidemic that really needs some — the shooting of dogs by police officers in America.

Anyone who reads this website knows it happens far too much — take Tuesday, for example — and often without good reason.

There are no firm statistics, but consider the estimates: The Department of Justice says about 10,000 dogs are shot by police officers every year.

And the number of police officers killed by dogs? None. Ever.

The documentary “Of Dogs and Men” takes a look at those alarming numbers, and what’s behind them, featuring many of the same cases we’ve reported here:

• Cisco, who was playing Frisbee with his owner in his Austin, Texas back yard when police at the wrong address for a domestic dispute call, shot and killed him.

• Payton and Chase, who were shot by police during a raid on a Maryland home – not only was their owner innocent of any charges, he is the town’s mayor.

• General Patton, who watched as his owners were handcuffed on the side of a Tennessee highway, completely innocent of any charges, and then killed as he exited the car, wagging his tail.

• Patches, a 12 pound Jack Russell terrier, who was shot by a 250-pound police officer who claimed to be in fear for his life.

“From SWAT raids to simple calls and even visits to wrong addresses, we are seeing more and more incidents of officers using lethal force against a family pet, despite the fact that no officer has ever been killed in the line of duty by a dog,” said director Michael Ozias. “We are hoping that this film compels more jurisdictions to follow the lead of states like Texas and Colorado that have taken steps to protect our law enforcement officers and our family dogs through increased awareness, proper training and effective policy.”

Of Dogs and Men, by Ozymandias Media, Inc., will premier Nov. 1 at the Austin Film Festival.

The film is being released in association with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

“Use of deadly force is rarely justified in these types of cases,” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “With better training, we are confident that we can put an end to these pointless killings,”

“Of Dogs and Men does an excellent job educating citizens on both the common facts of these heartbreaking cases and the surprising scope of the problem, while highlighting the tools citizens can employ to change outcomes for the better—from legislation requiring officer training in canine encounters to litigation under the federal civil rights act,” Wells added. “This film needed to be made and ALDF is proud to be a part of it.”

Some states are headed in the right direction.

Texas, where the problem is perhaps most severe, passed HB 593 in 2015, which requires mandatory canine encounter training for incoming Texas peace officers as well as those who seek advancement. The training helps officers who encounter dogs achieve safe and non-confrontational outcomes for both the officer and the dog.

The State of Colorado also enacted a statute that requires local law enforcement to undergo training to differentiate between threatening and non-threatening dog behaviors, and employ non-lethal means whenever possible.

Illinois has enacted similar legislation and other states are considering it as well.

You’d almost think dog lives don’t matter

No dog has ever killed a police officer in the line of duty.

And yet police officers, in the line of duty, shoot about 10,000 dogs a year in America, according to Department of Justice estimates.

One of the latest fatalities in the epidemic was Duchess, shot down Tuesday by an officer who acted quickly, if not wisely.

Within the space of about two seconds, a Florida City police officer determined the dog running out a front door he had knocked on was a threat and shot him three times.

The 40-pound pit bull mix died almost instantly as a surveillance camera recorded the incident.

Gillian Palacios said her two-year-old dog ran out of the front door when she started to open it.

The officer had knocked on the door to let the family know their car door was open.

“Before I could even do anything, the officer had his gun out and shot her three times in the head,” she told WPLG.

“She was curious. She wasn’t barking (and) she wasn’t growling,” Palacios said. “There was no reason for him to think she was aggressive in any way.”

“There were a million things he could have done other that shoot her three times in the head,” she added.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Florida City police spokesman Ken Armenteros defended the officer’s actions.

“We don’t have the luxury of hindsight,” Armenteros said. “We have to use the information that is given to us in a split second. So, the officer has to make that decision with the information that he has available.”

What about the luxury of foresight, though, we’d ask?

What about a mandatory program that trains all of a police force’s officers in canine behavior, how to interpret it, how to deal with it and how to make their split second decisions a little more wisely, a little less rashly?

All state legislatures should require such training, all police forces should get it in place. Only then will the “shoot first” mentality, and the thinking that dog lives don’t matter, begin to subside.

(Tomorrow: A look at a new documentary that explores the epidemic, “Of Dogs and Men.”)

The dog that brought down Subway’s Jared


A black Lab named Bear is being credited with playing a vital role in building the child pornography case against Subway spokesman Jared Fogle.

While he is not a “porn-sniffing” dog, as some headlines are describing him, Bear is said to be one of only five dogs in the country trained to sniff out electronic media storage devices.

After four months of training, Bear can detect SD cards, thumb drives, iPads and more.

The dog has worked five investigations for the Indiana Crimes Against Children Task Force, including the one at Fogle’s Zionsville residence.

Officials divulged yesterday how many electronic items seized from Fogle’s home were examined — 16 smartphones, five basic cellphones, five mp3 players, five tablets, six laptops, one desktop, six hard drives, five cameras, 10 flash drives, 10 memory cards, 46 CDs and 22 DVDs.

bear1Prosecutors said the dog’s discovery of a hidden flash drive was vital to the investigation.

Bear sniffed out a thumb drive that humans had failed to find during a search of Fogle’s home — several weeks before he pleaded guilty to having X-rated images of minors and paying to have sex with teenage girls.

Bear also took part in the investigation leading to this week’s arrest of Olympics gymnastics coach Marvin Sharp.

This week his owner and trainer, Todd Jordan, sold Bear to the Seattle Police Department to help investigate Internet crimes.

Jordan, a deputy fire chief, also trains dogs and sells them to law enforcement agencies.

Jordan gave NBC News a demonstration of Bear’s abilities, walking him through an apartment while repeatedly giving him the command “Seek!”

The dog zeroed in on a kitchen drawer, which Jordan opened to reveal a device. “Good boy!” he told Bear, giving him a treat.

Jordan got Bear as a rescue a year ago and spent four months training him on a food-reward system.

(Photos: (Jim Seida / NBC News)

Heat has killed 11 police dogs this summer


If it seems you’ve seen a lot of stories about police dogs dying of heat exhaustion this summer, it’s because you have.

Since the last week of May, 11 police dogs have died from the heat, and nine of those cases stemmed from dogs left in hot police cars, according to the Weather Channel.

The 11 deaths this summer compare with four nationwide in 2014 and three in 2013, according to records kept by the Officer Down Memorial Page.

The latest death came last week in Kohler, Wisconsin, when a police dog named Wix (pictured above) died in a squad car as his handler worked at a PGA Championship event.

Wix died as the result of heat exhaustion after the air conditioning unit in the vehicle malfunctioned, and the heat alarm in the vehicle failed to go off.

Wix, a Belgian malinois, was on special assignment with his handler at the Whistling Straights golf course. His handler found him unresponsive in the vehicle when he went to check on him.

Several other police dog deaths this summer have been blamed on faulty air conditioners.

In Oklahoma, a Muldrow Police Department dog named Zeke died from heat exhaustion after the air conditioner in his handler’s patrol car malfunctioned.

His handler was inside the police station working on a case and left Zeke in the car for at least an hour. At some point the air conditioner malfunctioned and began blowing only hot air. His handler returned to the car to find him dead.

Zeke had served with the Muldrow Police Department for four years.

Two more police dogs died in the same incident in Hialeah, Florida; and in Jim Wells County, Texas, deputy Latham Roldan was fired from the department after the K-9 he left in his squad car died from the heat.

(Photo:Brown County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page)

Deputy dogs: A good idea is catching on

Natasha Hernanadez, community services officer with the Laguna Beach Police Department, speaks with a dog owner about the Dog Walker Watch program one morning at the Laguna Beach Dog Park on Laguna Canyon Road. The city is asking dog walkers to help be aware of issues in and around their neighborhoods to help fight the rise in residential burglaries. ///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:   dogwalker ? 06/18/15 ? MARK RIGHTMIRE, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

In lovely Laguna Beach, California, the police department is seeking out dogs and their walkers to help take a bite out of crime.

The department has launched its own local version of a national campaign known as Dog Walker Watch, variations of which are now operating in more than 1,300 cities.

It enlists those who are out on the streets anyway, to serve as extra eyes and ears, reporting any suspicious activity or unusual behavior to authorities.

The Orange County Register reports that 20 dog owners have been trained so far this summer, and the police department is looking for more.

Natasha Hernandez, the department’s community service officer, has set up a stand at the Laguna Beach Dog Park to spread word about the program, handing out brochures and poop bags emblazoned with the police phone number. She has also posted fliers at pets shops and approached many professional dog walkers and sitters.

One of those who signed up is Diane Berger, who walks her neighborhood daily with her golden retriever, Casey.

“It’s an amazing idea,” she said. “We kind of have responsibility to help out. It’s our community. If we want to keep it safe, we can’t always expect others to take care of it.”

As part of the training, the police department makes a point of telling dog owners to stay alert, and to call when they see anything suspicious. The program stresses that calls to police aren’t bothersome.

The idea was hatched a year ago in Pennsylvania by Matt Peskin, the Register reported.

“I realized there are 75 million dog walkers in the country,” Peskin said. “If you could train a percentage to become even more aware, you’d have the perfect eyes and ears in the community.”

(Photo: Diane Berger walks with Casey, her 8-year-old golden retriever; by Mark Rightmire / Orange County Register)

Another police dog perishes in hot vehicle


Another police dog has died after being left in a police vehicle — this time one in Alabama whose purpose wasn’t law enforcement, but “community engagement.”

Mason was left by his handler in a hot patrol car without its air conditioning turned on June 18, and died the next night.

His handler, Corporal Josh Coleman, said he forgot that he’d left Mason in the car after attending a hurricane preparation conference in Gulf Shores.

A city press release offered little explanation of how that happened.

“On Thursday, June 18th, while transitioning between duties, Mason’s handler Corporal Josh Coleman forgot that Mason was still in the back seat of his patrol car. On discovering Mason’s absence Cpl. Coleman located him in the vehicle.”

The press release gave no indication of how long Mason was left inside the car. reports that the dog had entered the conference with Coleman, and had his picture taken at the event.

WISH-TV quoted a police sergeant as saying that Coleman left the dog in the car after the conference.

“He was going to take care of some paperwork in his office and he straight up forgot him,” says Woodruff. “Left him in the car.”

At some point, Coleman “discovered” him in the car. Mason was rushed to a local veterinarian, then transported to a vet in Penascola.

His condition seemed to be improving Friday morning, but died later in the evening.

The Gulf Shores Police Department acquired Mason on November 17, 2014, and had celebrated the dog’s third birthday on June 9.

While it was reported by some news outlets that Coleman would not face criminal charges, WISH reported the case will go to a grand jury. Coleman also faces “sanctions” from the police department and city.

According to the city press release, the department’s K-9′s usually travel in vehicles equipped with remote heat alarms, water bowls, and other protective measures.

“Because Mason’s duties did not include long periods in a vehicle, those protective measures were not available in his handler’s car,” it said.

The Gulf Shores Police Department might want to give that policy a second look — so its next “community relations” dog, if they get one, doesn’t turn into another public relations nightmare.

(Photo: Gulf Shores Police Department)

Two police dogs die in Florida after being left in vehicle for six hours


A Hialeah, Florida, officer has been suspended without pay pending an investigation into the deaths of two police dogs that he left in his parked vehicle for six hours or more.

The K-9s – Jimmy, 7, a bloodhound, and Hector, 4, a Belgian Malinois — were assigned to Officer Nelson Enriquez, who left them in a police SUV parked outside his home in Davie after his shift ended.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, he has worked 13 years for the department, the last seven as a K-9 officer.

At a news conference Thursday, Hialeah Police Sgt. Carl Zogby called the incident “a terrible tragedy. Every member of the Hialeah Police Department was beyond fond of Jimmy the Bloodhound and of Hector. We were in love with those dogs.”

Zogby described Enriquez as “extremely distraught … He has lost two beloved members of his family.”

jimmy2Enriquez is married with two children who were also very attached to the dogs, Zogby said.

Enriquez returned home from his shift at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

“He did not remove either dog from the cargo compartment of his marked police vehicle,” before entering his home, Zogby said. The SUV has K-9 compartments, called cradles, for each dog.

Enriquez discovered the dead animals about 5 p.m.

The bodies of the two dogs were taken to the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which will perform necropsies.

Davie police are investigating the deaths and Hialeah police are conducting an internal affairs investigation.

Jimmy, the bloodhound, was donated to the Hialeah Police Department by the Jimmy Ryce Center, which was formed by the parents of a nine-year-old boy who was abducted, raped and murdered while walking from his school bus to his southwest Miami-Dade home in 1995.

Don and Claudine Ryce created the Center to provide free bloodhounds to police departments. The Ryces felt that if a bloodhound was used in their son’s case, he may have been recovered alive.

(Photos: At top, Jimmy fetching; lower photo, Jimmy with Enriquez, by Allison Diaz / Miami Herald)

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