Oakland police getting dog, wildlife training

October 13, 2010 8:06:07 PM PDT
First it was a deer, then an aging family dog. After Oakland police shot to death two animals, all officers will now receive training in animal behavior.

"If you don't have that training about animals your first response is going to use what you know, and that's going to be to use force," East Bay SPCA Director Allison Lindquist said.

Lindquist says it was the recent shooting of a family dog in an Oakland neighborhood by police officers that prompted her to begin offering the force courses in animal behavior.

"The program will include reading dog behavior, dog instincts, from that to simply looking at a property and trying to determine visually, if you don't see a dog, if a dog or an animal is on that property," she said.

The training will begin next month and will be mandatory for all 679 Oakland officers.

"What we're going to try to do is make sure we train our officers well enough to know that, if you have a family pet there, that's there to protect the family, and that officer is there also to protect the family," Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said.

SPCA animal trainer Sarah Wharton says observing a dog's body movements before approaching can protect officers from an aggressive animal. A wagging tail, ears pointing skyward are typically signs of non-aggression. Backing away, tails closely tucked inward or charging are signs that the dog is uncomfortable.

Depending on the situation officers can use batons, pepper spray and catch poles to keep animals at a safe distance.

When it comes to wild animals the best advice is to leave them alone.

The training will cost about $50,000 and will be paid for by donations from the SPCA.


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