Over at The Daily Beast, Reason senior editor Radley Balko surveys a number of recent stories where police have shot and killed the family dog, and ponders why lethal force is often the cops' first option instead of the last. Excerpt:
If dangerous dogs are so common, one would expect to find frequent reports of vicious attacks on meter readers, postal workers, firemen, and delivery workers. But according to a spokesman from the United States Postal Service, serious dog attacks on mail carriers are vanishingly rare. Bites do happen, but postal workers are given training on how to distract dogs with toys, subdue them with voice commands, or, at worst, incapacitate them with Mace. Mail carriers are shown a two-hour video and given instruction on how to recognize and read a dog's body language, how to differentiate between aggressive charging and playful bounding, and how to tell a truly dangerous dog from a merely territorial one.
Few police departments offer this kind of training, though groups like the ASPCA and the Humane Society say they'd be more than happy to provide it. "New York is the only state I know of that mandates formalized training, and that's during academy," says Joseph Pentangelo, the ASPCA's assistant director for law enforcement, who also served 21 years with the NYPD before retiring in 2001. "There are some individual departments in other parts of the country that avail themselves of our training, but not many. Not enough."