Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about your individual situation it is best to seek the advice of an experienced legal professional.
People who are misidentified, in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who are racially profiled by police are often the victims of tragic shootings, beatings and killings caused by excessive police force. Many beloved animals are also harmed in confrontations with the police, but we are less likely to hear about such incidents. When an animal is harmed or killed by a police officer, it may be a result of abuse, bias against breed, a lack of training or a pure accident. Regardless of whether the police officer acted according to protocol and with the best intentions, the loss of a beloved dog or other animal is a tragedy that can traumatize families and the police officer. Witnessing the shooting of a beloved animal can be especially traumatizing for any children who are present.
There are many reasons why a police officer may shoot a dog. One reason this can happen is if the police officer’s K-9 gets into conflict with a dog. In a recent case in Detroit, there was public outcry over a video shared on the internet that showed the killing of a dog by a police officer. The police officer shot the dog in the head after it slipped from its owner’s grip while the owner was trying to restrain it, then attacked the officer’s K-9 through the bars of a gate. The police officer was found to have acted according to protocol and was not reprimanded.
Sometimes in these situations, a legal conflict can break out. In this case, the dog was being kept in a fenced off area off the street with a gate with bars. This did not meet local code, although the owner had posted “beware of the dog” signs. Often times, owners might not be aware of their liabilities and responsibilities in these situations, but may feel hurt and want redress. Officer’s K-9s may also be afforded more legal protection from harm in some states than ordinary dogs. Police officers often treat their dogs as “partners” and honorary officers. Some police officers may act defensively to protect their dogs as if they are partners, which can result in abdicating a duty of care to civilian dogs. In fact K-9s, like most pets, are considered property rather than people. Thus generally they are legally classed as an officer’s equipment, rather than an officer’s partner or friend.
If a police officer’s dog gets into conflict with another dog and a death or injury of either animal results, the mediators at BCS can help to resolve conflict and reduce the harm caused by these tragic deaths. We are West Coast mediators with a multi-layered skill-set that can be tailored to resolve the emotional, legal and financial harms caused by the death of an animal. We have legal, financial, psychoanalytical and mathematical expertise which we use to analyze the conflict and help parties come to an understanding of their mutual resources and opportunities to heal and offer redress. There are many situations where the law or professional codes can’t neatly cover the situation that has taken place and clinging to legal definitions or professional rules can only escalate conflict. Dog owners who have lost a dog due to police use of force may also not be aware of their legal standing in these conflicts. We can analyze all the layers of conflict through the legal, financial, and emotional aspects to suggest what resolutions are possible and out of court. If necessary we can recommend officer training to de-escalate animal conflict.
Who We Are and How We Can Help
At Boileau Conflict Solutions we are a group of caring and well-educated mediators and negotiators with financial, legal and psychological backgrounds. We maintain that animals are important stakeholders in our culture and should be represented fairly in conflict. The first step to successfully mediating a dispute involving animals is recognizing that animals have legitimate life interests. By considering the best interests of animals, parties don’t have to remain locked in intractable positions with animals as property or collateral. Animal Mediation solves a huge range of disputes but also future-proofs disputes by coming to good agreements that pave the way for positive change in animal treatment. We mediate disputes involving domestic and wild animals. Some of the areas covered include excessive use of force by police officers, disputes with breed clubs, contract problems between owners and handlers, conflicts with trainers, groomers and veterinarians, noise problems with barking dogs and other animals, pet “custody” battles and much more. We handle disputes using a set of unique approaches informed by game theory, communication theory, psychoanalysis and the law. We value non-violent resolutions if at all possible and can intervene in urgent situations, even where conflict is violent. In these situations we often manage to prevent harm to animals by facilitating alternative solutions to animal control etc. We are available seven days a week and at urgent notice and have offices in San Diego, CA and LA. During the Pandemic we can resolve conflict remotely via Zoom, Facetime and Telephone. All remote mediations are completely confidential with the added security of a private, encrypted server. Please contact us now to see how we can help.