OPD, SPCA launch animal protection program

April 5, 2011 1:14:23 PM PDT
The first partnership of its kind in the country is being launched to help train Oakland police officers who have to deal with animals on the job. It follows recent incidents in which officers shot and killed some animals.

According to the SPCA, three out of four households in Oakland have pet dogs, so it's routine for an officer to come across one in the course of a day's work. But the killing of an aging and arthritic dog by an officer responding to a burglar alarm caused uproar, and the killing of a deer trapped in the backyard of an Oakland home led to a sergeant's demotion and an officer disciplined.

"So what we try to show in the video were actual sceanrios of dogs doing different posting and breed specfic information, what dogs will tend to show their agression and emotion more so than others," East Bay SPCA Executive director Allison Lindquist said.

The program includes a training DVD and 90 minutes of instruction, question and answers, and animal interaction.

Officers and sergeants being able to recognize animal behavior that would allow them to be more efficient on how they do their job, and to make better decisions on dealing with animals," OPD Deputy Chief Eric Breshears said.

The $45,000 cost of the training is being picked up by the SPCA, sparing the police department's strained coffers. It is believed no other police department in the nation has such a program but apparently others soon will.

"Florida, Tampa and St. Petersburgh, Seattle Washington and Oregon have asked for copies of this as soon as we have it available," Lindquist said.

"The sergeant involved in participating and actually putting the training together has said there is positive feedback from sergeants and commanders, and they are saying and we are becoming better officers through it," Breshears said.

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