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    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

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Police Dogs 101: What You Need to Know About These Canine Officers

Posted in Police on May 20, 2016

Dogs aren’t just our best friends; these domesticated animals have served people in countless ways for thousands of years. Today, they help individuals with disabilities – but they also have applications in the military, dating back to World War I, and with our modern police departments. For example, many canines can learn to detect bombs or drugs, and other breeds are used to pursue or detain fleeing criminals.

The Breeds

The screening process for an effective canine officer starts by selecting an appropriate breed. There are plenty of niches these pups can fill and many breeds may fit the bill. The most popular and some of the more common duties include:

Labrador retrievers. Labradors typically work at border checks and airports to pinpoint narcotics, explosives, and other illegal substances. This breed also works for search and rescue missions.

German Shepherds. Most people would probably identify this breed as police dogs. There is a reason for this: These canines are fiercely loyal, highly trainable, and intimidating. Even having one standing by in a police vehicle can be enough to deter aggressive behavior or keep a dispute from escalating.

Beagles. We rely on these pups for their olfactory sense; they often check for fruits and vegetables at airports and checkpoints, ensuring these items don’t pass through our borders illegally. Unlike other dogs, this breed is trained to respond passively to the items they are searching for; they simply sit down when they make a discovery.

A dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times stronger than the human nose. Although a dog’s sense of smell is remarkable, it is only one of the reasons canines make such reliable police dogs. Their training is rigorous, and over time, they learn to apply all of their physical capabilities to protect the people they serve.

Their Training

All dogs go through the same training process, which usually includes obedience and endurance training. After that, they go into specific programs to hone specialized skills. This typically takes 10 weeks using the following techniques:

Obedience training. Most of these dogs are trained with a favorite toy – often a towel, which they love to tug on. The substance they are intended to find (whether a drug or chemicals used in explosives) is then associated with that toy through scent.

Endurance and agility training. Though the majority of their work involves searching, these dogs also go through rigorous physical testing. This ensures they are capable of performing as needed in the field.

Focused training. Once these pups meet the above requirements, they go into specialized classes – for example, in bomb or drug detection or search and rescue.

After completing this program, dogs don a badge and become law enforcers. Of course, when an animal is trained to restrain an aggressive person or catch a fleeing suspect, great control must be exercised to ensure they are responsibly handled.

Responding to an Accident – Know Your Rights in California

These dogs are carefully trained, but accidents do happen. Even if the canine was pursuing a criminal, the pup must respond to his or her trainer’s commands. A dog that is ill equipped to handle these situations – for example, if the animal does not stop an attack when called – it may be grounds for a lawsuit. The handler may also be responsible if he or she commands the dog to pursue the wrong person or fails to restrain or control the canine.

Police dogs are trained to detain, which often leads to serious injuries. If you were hurt in an unwarranted attack or police failed to control their charges properly, reach out to attorney Graham Donath for more information. He and his team have proven expertise in getting to the bottom of cases like these, and we will ensure your rights are protected.