Saskatoon, CA — A Saskatoon police K9, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, reportedly wouldn’t let go of a 6-year-old after the dog attacked the little girl. Predictably, the Saskatoon police department is defending not only its dog but its handler. But if the script was flipped and the family’s dog had attacked the officer, one can bet the policeman would have killed the family dog right in front of its owners.
The incident happened while police were supposedly tracking suspects in the family’s neighborhood. Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper claims the dog has been thoroughly trained and serves an integral part of the law enforcement agency. Cooper defended its training saying:
Our canine officers and their animals are an important part of our organization…The dogs are selected for police work and they all receive extensive training to a provincial standard and that is reviewed annually by supervisors in the unit.
Following the mauling, the Saskatoon PD removed the dog from service and is conducting an investigation into the dog, its training, as well as the actions of its handler. Cooper stated:
This is a working dog…It’s trained to track. It’s trained to protect the handler. It’s trained to do the things it was doing…It acted outside of that training and that’s what we’re investigating.
The tiny child was bitten between the armpit and her hip and while police claimed the dog immediately released when ordered to do so, witnesses claim otherwise.
Autumn Clifford, 6, was attacked and mauled. The vicious attack required numerous stitches to close several deep puncture wounds to her abdomen. Leslie Welder, her mother, said her daughter was simply curious and was immediately attacked. Welder stated:
My other daughter — she’s seven — stated that all Autumn did was look over and say, ‘Oh, look! Puppy!’ And next thing you know he was on her, pulling her down to the ground and attacking her.
Amanda Pritchard, a neighbor, said she witnessed the attack and claims not only did the dog viciously attacker but wouldn’t immediately let go as police contend. She said:
Out of nowhere there was two officers that I saw. One was on top of the dog. Three times he had told the dog to let go. ‘Let go! Let go!,’ he was saying to the dog. The dog did not let go. The dog, in fact, growled at the cop and shook his head like he was going to tear her…All she (Autumn) was yelling was, ‘Ow! Ow! Ow!’
Cooper stated the victim is receiving services but the police chief apparently does not want to minimize the serious nature of the attack. He remarked:
Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence but, having said that, I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of what would have been a terrifying event for a little girl and her family.
As TFTP has reported, police dogs, like deadly weapons, are often just another violent tool in the hands of law enforcement officers used to inflict pain on individuals, many of whom are peacefully protesting what they perceive to be an illegal search or unlawful arrest. In the Saskatoon case, the victim was a child, an innocent bystander, who likely wanted nothing more than to pet the officer’s dog.
As a result of the literally hundreds of violent encounters we’ve documented between police dogs and civilians, it is the stance of TFTP such unpredictable animals should be banned from police service. Not only are police K9’s given law enforcement officer status, defending oneself against being mauled by an officer’s K9 can result in felony charges against a citizen.
Just like police officers should not be treated as a protected class of citizens, so, too, should police K9s not be afforded such protections. Below, our very own Jason Bassler details five reasons why police K9s should be removed from service.