Michigan Lawmaker Wants Police Trained To Interact Properly With Pets

Rep. Phil Cavanagh, a Michigan lawmaker, introduced House Bill 5776 this month in hopes of creating mandatory training for police officers so that they will know how to properly interact with people’s pets, according to the Livingston Daily.

Cavanagh, a Democrat from Redford, said he introduced the bill after a couple from his area came to him with an emotional plea after a police officer shot their 10-month-old puppy, Rock, when he entered their yard in pursuit of a suspect. The Redford, Michigan, shooting incident that initiated the proposed training law was previously featured in The Inquisitr.

“They asked me to look into this and that’s when I realized there was really nothing in the training,” Cavanagh explained. “I was surprised there is no mandatory training on how to handle this.”

The proposed law would hold the state commission responsible for police officer training standards to create new rules that would make police officers aware of proper handling techniques of dogs and other pets in situations like the one in Redford, Michigan. The training would include instruction on recognizing behavioral cues in dogs and other pets.

Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte told the Livingston Daily that the specialized training proposed by HB 5776 is not needed. He said that he knows of no police officer who actually wants to shoot someone’s pet. The sheriff explained that it has been about 15 years since any of his police officers shot a dog. In that incident, the owners of a dog deliberately let their pet loose to attack police while the officers were at a known drug house to serve the resident a warrant. Other police officers in Michigan agree as well.

“I see no need for it,” Brighton Police Chief Tom Wightman told the Livingston Daily. “It’s further proof of the need for a part-time Legislature.”

Redford police issued a statement after Rock was killed that “everyone here loves animals and that (shooting a dog) is the last thing we want to do, but we have to protect ourselves.”

Last month, a police officer in Texas killed a pit bull during an attack. The Inquisitr reported on that incident. The pit bull was injured in the shooting. In April, another Texas police officer shot a dog after it jumped off the back of a farmer’s truck. The Inquisitr also reported that Texas officers in one police department would be given training similar to the program suggested in the proposed Michigan law.

Cavanagh said that, ideally, Michigan police departments would initiate their own voluntary training programs in response to the bill.

“The bill being out there shows that the legislators are willing to take action if nothing is done. If we withdraw the bill there is no motivation for the commission to continue working with us on this,” Cavanagh’s staff wrote in a statement about the proposed Michigan law, which the lawmaker hopes will encourage non-lethal interaction between police and pets.

[Photo via Live Leaks]