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Dog Bites And The Law: Police Liability

By Author: R. Klettke
Total Articles: 56

Under California Law Police Are Liable for Unreasonable Police Dog Attacks


Police dogs are allowed to inflict injuries on some crime suspects while apprehending them. Contact a dog bite injury attorney to learn the limits.


Police service dogs are skillfully trained animals that perform an important law enforcement function. Part of their training includes attacking a suspected perpetrator of dangerous crimes, and they have been a part of law enforcement for many years. Modern use of certain breeds of dogs – German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois among them – goes back to the late 19th century in the U.S., but the ancient Greeks reportedly used dogs to detect criminals as far back as the Third Century B.C.


A thin line exists between appropriate apprehension of a suspected criminal and unreasonably excessive force – for example, when a police service dog attacks someone who is merely being charged on a traffic matter. To some degree, the laws that apply to civilians and dogs hold for police dogs as well, but dog bite injury attorneys know there are provisions in the California dog bite statutes that provide some leeway to police departments.


Citizens – including those suspected of a crime – are protected by the 4th Amendment of the Constitution against unreasonable and excessive search and seizure. Some key points a trial lawyer would consider as to whether a dog bite case warrants litigation:

Were you suspected of a violent or non-violent crime, and did you present an immediate danger to others or yourself (for example, did you wield a weapon)?
Were you physically resisting arrest?
Did you provoke the dog in any way?
Did the police officers have other less injurious options for apprehending you?
Did law enforcement officials unjustifiably encourage the attack to be particularly violent and protracted?
Did you suffer extensive injuries, which could include broken skin and damage to muscles, tendons, blood vessels and bones?

The fact of the matter is that the breeds of dogs used for police service can viciously inflict serious injuries and even death. If you or a loved one was subject to what you believe is excessive and unwarranted force and injury due to an overzealous police dog, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bites who specializes in dog bites. Ideally, the attorney will be able to prove that your attack was unwarranted and that you are due appropriate compensation for medical treatment and care, lost time at work and possibly pain and suffering.

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