On January 1, 2014, House Bill 3388 will mandate specialized training to police officers across the state on how to handle animals in nonlethal methods. Sadly, police officers shooting dogs have become a national epidemic, and for many pet owners, the wounding and killing of their four-legged companions have been senseless, brutal attacks.
According to CBSlocal.com, the program will include instruction on canine behavior and nonlethal ways to subdue a dog. Cherie Travis, who has done training with Cook County Sheriff's Department during animal crime investigations stated that using air horns, fire extinguishers, and even tasers can help officers deal with dog fighting and less aggressive forms of animal control.
The Chicago Tribune cites there are more dog shootings in Chicago than in New York or Los Angeles.
In the Governor's press release, issues of dog fighting, police behavior towards dogs, and training are noted:
There is no place in Illinois for animal fighting and this new law will create awareness and help law officers deal with this kind of cruel behavior,” Governor Quinn said. “We also need to crack down on the mistreatment of animals in Illinois and this law will make sure our officers know the best way to respond to animals while out on the streets.”
House Bill 3388 adds language to the Illinois Police Training Act and includes a training program in animal fighting awareness. The bill provides that within the program there must be training dealing with humane responses to animal abuse, identifying animal fighting operations, and nonlethal ways to subdue canines.
The latest bill, with the Governor declaring Illinois the most humane state in America, developed after the particularly egregious shooting of a miniature bull terrier dog was shot by a police officer December 2012. The seven-month-old puppy had run out into the street quite innocently, as his human Al Phillips, went out to question a police officer placing a parking ticket on a car in front of Phillips' home.
The pup, named "Col. Phillips" was shot by the police officer twice; once in the leg and the stomach. Fortunately the bullets ricocheted off of the sidewalk not fatally injuring the dog, but the entire scene was witnessed by several people. Phillips, 75, said he did not hear the officer warn him the dog was loose. A police log stated the "dog lunged" at the officer. Witnesses and neighbors who know "Col. Phillips" state the dog is a sweetheart.
Two days later the Phillips were issued a ticket for their "off-leash" dog.
The Phillips are suing for damages.
As it is also the dog owner's responsibility to make sure their dog is under control at all times, police officers do have the right to defend themselves against aggressive dog attacks, but the use of nonlethal methods to control behavior now becomes a necessary part of training. Too often the breeds of dogs end up becoming their own death sentences by authorities, yet there has never been any proof that canine behavior can be judged on a dog's breed.
Illinois now becomes the second state in America after Colorado to require officers to better prepare for dog encounters. Let's hope some canine lives are saved.
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