According to the Department of Justice, there are approximately 25 dogs shot every day by police officers around the country. That's 10,000 dogs annually. A simple Google search will bring up a plethora of articles about police / pet interactions, with most being sad stories that end with needing a better way to educate police on how to deal with dogs. A dog running at you may be excited to see you, not aggressive; however, the personal safety of an officer is important, and an unknown dog can seem very threatening, no matter the behavior.
In an effort to ensure a safer interaction between pet dogs and DC's MPD officers, Fourth District Commander Wilfredo Manlapaz sent out a few suggestions to local ANC commissioners on setting up a better environment for pets if MPD officers are called to a residence.
The burden is on the homeowner to ensure pets are safe and don't seem threatening -- even the friendliest pit bull or chihuahua can seem dangerous when it's unknown.
Here are MPD's suggestions:
- Avoid leaving your dog unattended in your yard (even if it’s fenced) or in public.
- Get a “Dog In Yard” sign and make sure gates and fences are in good repair, closed, and locked to prevent an escape.
- If you know the police are on the way to your home, crate or confine your dog or cat to a room in the house and close the door if safe and practical.
- If the police arrive at your home, alert them to the presence of a dog or cat and ask for a moment or two to crate/confine the dog or cat.
- Keep your doors fully closed and locked so that if someone comes to your front door (either a police officer or someone else), a dog or cat cannot slip out and approach them on their own.
- Have all of your pet’s paperwork together and easily accessible should the police or animal control officers need to see it.
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times when in an unconfinded area.
- If you know your dog is reactive for any reason, use an approved and safe muzzle (i.e., one purchased from a pet supply store) when taking them out in public.