MPD sends out notice on safer interactions between dogs and officers

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.

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.

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