What could Austin Police Officer Thomas Griffin have used to subdue the family dog he mistakenly deemed aggressive? Well at least three suitable items would have been hanging on his belt:
1. Capsicum Spray – At RSPCA Victoria (where I worked for years) Inspectors do not carry guns. The most powerful anti-aggression devise in their possession is capsicum spray. It may come as a surprise but after years of confronting dangerous dog on daily basis only a handful of Inspectors have ever been bitten by a dog.
2. Taser – Just like in cases of human aggression a Taser can be used effectively to subdue a dangerous dog. The use of Tasers on dogs carries risks but is still a lot safer then using a bullet.
3. Baton – Animal handlers and dog trainers are trained to use a baton to safely stop a dangerous dog. Surely this is the kind of training a police officer should have.
The bottom line is this – unlike extensive training police officers receive to handle threatening humans, there seems to be little of it when it comes to dangerous dogs. Officer Griffin’s responsive reaching for the gun in a situation that did not require it indicates either lack of understanding of dog behaviour or a trigger-happy attitude to dogs. Either way it doesn’t look good for the Force.