“Failure to remove the dog within a reasonable time”

There are two issues causing legitimate concern within the police K9 community regarding the reasonable amount of time a police dog is justified to be on a bite prior to its release and the amount of time the dog remains on the bite after the handler has given the dog its first command to release.  It is often said “time is on your side” but in the case of a dog bite, that is not necessarily the case.

Sometimes, simple is better and more effective for retention purposes. In 2020, I dedicated 2,991 words to an article I wrote titled “Time on a Bite” and I am now going to condense that article into one sentence that can be a policy recommendation and may keep you out of trouble;

“When the use of force is no longer necessary, a handler should remove his/her police dog from a bite on a suspect as quickly as possible once the suspect is secured or under control and it is safe to do so.”

Why is the timing important for removing a police dog? Once a handler has determined the use of force (the dog bite) is no longer necessary, and the handler gives the first verbal command to and/or physical action for the dog to release the bite, the “unreasonable clock” begins ticking and the time it takes to eventually stop the force (release the bite) is the time the handler will be held accountable and any continuing force (staying on the bite) may be deemed to be excessive.  Many of us have seen videos of handlers unable to remove their dogs from a bite within a reasonable time.  You do not want to be that handler.

If you’d like to read “Time on a Bite” that addresses this issue a little more thoroughly, click here.

Take care, be safe, and make every day a training day….

Bill Lewis II

This “reason” was condensed on March 11, 2022, from an article titled “Time on a Bite” originally published in the USPCA’s “Canine Courier” (Summer 2020).

“The best time to get out of trouble is before it happens.”

“Trouble” isn’t always related to incidents or predicaments that directly result in lawsuits, claims or discipline. Often times, our actions or inactions that are missed, deliberately overlooked or downplayed may lead to nothing or can later lead to mistakes or bad incidents with minimal to serious repercussions.  A reason we get in trouble can be minor or simple at first glance – or even serious – but a combination of these factors can often have disastrous consequences.   

These “reasons” are provided periodically as a collection in-progress based on actual incidents and real attitudes as well as feedback received at HITS, the CNCA Training Institute, and the “Canine Liability 360” classes.  As Gordon Graham says, “We haven’t found new ways to get in trouble.” So, as the list progresses, you may or may not read something familiar to you that you have personally experienced or seen others encounter. If you encountered or heard about it, did you learn from it?