Great Debate: Should police stop training dogs for aggression?

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Following the incident of a police dog who had to be killed by officers after turning on its handler, and who had a previous history of attacking a member of the public, some are wondering – should police stop training dogs for aggression?

There are a lot of upsides to police dogs being trained to sniff out drugs, weapons, or explosives – but there is growing concern about the use of dogs to subdue suspects.

A massive investigation by the Marshall Project highlighted several concerns with the use of police dogs in the US – from the severity of injuries caused to their frequent use against non-violent suspects, along with the fact officers are not always able to control the dog – and some believe the case of PC Jax is a sign that we should be asking the same difficult questions in the UK as well.

PC Jax

Those arguing for police to stop training dogs for aggression say that with with instruments such as tasers and pepper sprays – without even getting to firearms – trained police officers should have plenty of options to stop a suspect other than deploying a dog with the potential of causing serious harm. Plus, they add, police dogs trained for aggression are often difficult to rehome once their working life is over.

Others believe that the assistance a dog can provide in detaining a potentially violent suspect is invaluable – such as in the case of police dog Finn, who was stabbed several times while protecting his handler. While it is true that accidents may happen as was the case with Jax, they argue, ending the training of dogs to help detain suspects would amount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

What do you think – should police stop training dogs for aggression? Tell us what you think here, on Facebook, or by writing to editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk.

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