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Officers receive training on handling dogs encounters and veterinary crime scenes

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- On Wednesday, The Humane Society of the United States offered free training and resources to area law enforcement officers all focusing on handling dog encounters and veterinary crime scene analysis.


 The topics focused on non-lethal force options when officers encounter dogs while on the job, along with reading the behaviors, mannerisms and body language of animals including situations of abuse or neglect. Veterinarian Forensics Doctor Melinda Merck spoke at the training event, showing officers examples of animal cruelty cases and how to identify and document evidence in these cases.

Most officers have little to no training when it comes to investigating animal abuse cases. Officers said this special training will show them what to do when dealing with not only these types of cases, but animal crimes that coincide with human crimes.

Kiowa County Sheriff Jeff Smith was just one of the many officers at today's training. Although, the it focused on household pets likes dogs and cats, Smith said this training will help them with larger animal cruelty cases.

"A lot of people want horses when the economy is good, when the economy is bad they don't have the means to take care of them so since we have seen an increase in those types of reports I thought this training would help us not just better recognizes what is or what not might be a crime, but how to go best about seeking prosecution," said Smith.

And Veterinarian Forensics Doctor Melinda Merck has been working with animal cruelty cases for 12 years and has been involved in over 500 cases.

Merck gave an example of a case involving a domestic violence and animal cruelty showing the connection between the two.


"When you have an animal at the resident is that that animal has a 88 percent chance that it has been abused and so they need to involve their animal encounter parts so have animal control come out and that they work together, this is a community problem that requires community resources and community support," said Merck.

Another topic discussed was dog encounters with police. Chris Brosan, with the Humane Society of the United States says they have seen several million dollar civil law suits against police departments regarding dogs being shot. Brosan said shooting the dog may be necessary in some cases but there are other options.


"In a passive situation you can use things simple as an umbrella, the opening of an umbrella scares dogs, its a level of protection,  the dog  doesn't know that is a flimsy fabric, that dog just sees a big thing opening up, but it can startle the dog keep it at bay.....air horns, road flares can be used to distract a dog," Brosan said.

But Brosan said their main goal is the safety of not only the animals, but officers who are forced to turn to their gun for protection.

"You are in a situation where animal may be charging you, there could be other officers around, there could be pet owners around, and you have to understand the implications that are involved in these cases," Brosan said.

The Humane Society of the United States will be traveling to cities across the state providing training to over 500 Oklahoma officers. Officers who attended the training  will receive credit towards their Counsel on Law Enforcement Education Training also known as CLEET.

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