A bill up for consideration in the Texas legislature says roughly one in three calls to police involves an interaction with a dog and that there were over 200 fatal shootings in 2014.
Animal rights advocates are pushing for legislation that would mandate animal training. Groups like the Texas Humane Legislation Network say police are often too quick to shoot animals that may appear aggressive.
Jim Osorio teaches this type of training. He owns Canine Encounters Law Enforcement Training in Arlington.
“Sometimes working around animals is a lot better than working around people,” Osorio laughs.
Osorio became interested in this work in 2003 when he heard of the Cookeville, Tennessee incident.
“That’s the Smoke family. They were on their way home one new years day and they got pulled over, someone mistakenly thought that they were involved in a robbery or a car jacking,” Osorio says. “But during the whole incident, one of their dogs got out of the car on the side of the road and one of the Cookeville Police Department officers shot their dog with a shotgun and killed their dog on the side of the highway.”
Osorio says it’s happening because there is no formal training for officers.
“Well it made me angry because even when I went through the police training, through base and everything, they never taught us anything on how to handle animals,” Osorio says.
Osorio says an interaction should start with police letting the dog know they are there.
“Then you can bring your tools out, you can talk to the dog,” Osorio says. “That’s what I teach officers, how to use your tools as a distraction. Also how to talk to a dog you know, yelling and screaming your not going to get anywhere with a dog.”