Seeing the Sept. 3 headline “K-9 stabbed during pursuit dies” elicits questions about our society today. Many people are too young to know about the use of German shepherds to attack and terrorize Jews and other people deemed unworthy by the Nazi regime. Many in our country want to forget the pictures of attack dogs mauling black Americans in the 1960s when they marched peacefully to request the right to vote, a fundamental core of our republican democracy.
How does bringing a trained attack dog to a potential crime in progress help defuse the situation? Isn’t it a natural reaction to defend oneself when being attacked by a ferocious, snarling, barking dog? What does the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have to say about putting these animals in harm’s way? Who came up with the acronym K-9, making it sound like a harmless dog wearing a badge as a friendly helper?
It’s logical to use dogs for scenting activities: smelling out drugs, tracking, helping in natural disasters. That use has morphed into police officers getting emotionally attached to animals that are trained to provoke criminals who are already out of control.
Police officers have extremely difficult jobs. They need training and protection to de-escalate acute behaviors, not exacerbate them. Relegate the age of attack dogs to the historical ash heap from which it was dredged.