When a police officer shot and seriously injured two friendly service dogs on security camera, shocked viewers from around the world witnessed an unexpected example of police misconduct. The owner of the two Staffordshire Terriers, (whose daughter witnessed the shooting from an upstairs window), is facing thousands of dollars in vet’s bills and has decided to pursue litigation. In other situations where human animal confrontations are mismanaged resulting in injury or death, mediation can step in to arrange compensation or restorative justice – and unlike litigation, mediation can also include provisions for updating training so it doesn’t happen again.
Re-training police in animal confrontations may sound simple, but in reality it involves overcoming many inherent biases and misinformation. It’s not clear why the officer reacted the way he did, but a clue may be found in the police report, which identifies the dogs (officially Staffordshire Terriers) as “Pit Bull Terriers.” Pit Bull dogs have gained a reputation with the public which is at odds with expert opinion. The CDC and the American Bar Association do not recommend breed-specific legislation and Delaware has passed a bill to outlaw breed-specific legislation. Yet Denver still bans Pit Bulls (since 1989), and Montreal imposed a ban in 2016. “Pit Bulls” can cover a range of breeds, including Staffordshire Terriers, one reason why the police officer may have assumed the dogs were aggressive.
Mediation is for Dog Owners and Community
Mediation isn’t just for conflicts between individuals; choosing mediation can have lasting positive effects that benefit the whole community. Mediation can intervene in conflicts between dog owners and the police or city and it can promote ongoing conflict mediation/management between community and city or police. Mediation can work with existing community policing programs to help integrate animal friendly policies and training, or it can help to establish ongoing community cooperation through conflict resolution deals that pledge increased commitment and cooperation. When owners already mistrust the police and tensions are high, dog confrontations are more likely. To resolve and manage conflict in the future, mediation can recommend (and source funding for) dog handling and confrontation training for police and/or residents. Mediation is a good choice in communities where trust is not well established between residents and the city/police.
Mediation is cheaper by the hour than litigation, promotes cooperation and good planning (financial and otherwise), and can help to source funding. This may be essential for under-resourced police units (or other organizations, such as private security companies) that can’t afford dog-training or compensation. Mediation is also cheaper for individual owners who may not be able to afford legal battles. Mediation can help finance solutions and settlements by negotiating with animal welfare organizations, charities, community organizations, local businesses or the city to oversee and fund training. In the case of the Staffordshire Terriers, police were willing to update mandatory training procedures for human animal confrontation, but in mediation, aggrieved parties can be sure to have a greater influence on this process.
Solutions through Mediation
Mediation can help in dog confrontations in any of the following ways and more:
-Supporting or establishing community cooperation that includes new or updated animal policies and training
-Identifying key stakeholders in the community to support conflict resolution and be part of ongoing solutions if necessary
-Liaising with animal organizations to provide training to police or other organizations to prevent mismanagement of human dog confrontations
-Sourcing funding for training to better manage human dog confrontations
-Compensation that goes beyond financial compensation for the loss of a priceless pet, such as donation to animal charities or other restorative justice
-Financial funding to cover medical care for the serious injury of a pet
-Negotiating to re-train or re-home a pet or service dog with behavioral problems rather than euthanize the animal
-Psychological approach to dealing with trauma of pet human confrontations including recommending and sourcing funds for counselling
-Education for police, individuals and organizations about current expert opinion on non-breed-specific dog handling
-Whether an animal confrontation is big or small, mediation focuses on getting the key stakeholders to the table to work out a lasting solution.
Find Out How We Can Help
As the U.S.’s first animal rights clinic, Boileau Conflict Solutions is well placed to assist in any animal dispute. We are a group of caring, well-educated mediators who use unique psychological, legal and mathematical approaches to resolve conflicts. We consider all interests in a dispute and believe that viewing animals as stakeholders with legitimate interests helps to clarify the resources available and move towards a sustainable and positive solution for all. If you would like to enquire about mediation over police confrontation with an animal, please contact us for a completely confidential, free consultation. We can respond to conflicts at urgent notice and are available either in person at our offices in Boulder, CO, Irvine, CA, or Campbell, CA, or via telephone, skype or zoom. Please get in touch to see how we can help.