What Happens if a Police Dog Bites You?

Posted on by liljegrenlaw

Police dogs have assisted law enforcement officers for over a century, and they provide talents humans simply don’t possess. K-9 units can track suspects by scent, pursue fleeing criminals much faster than human officers, and locate illegal substances, such as drugs or bombs.

Despite the numerous advantages they provide law enforcement, they’re trained to attack in certain situations and are capable of inflicting severe wounds. Police dogs are taught to bite and hold. They know to bite with more force than civilian dogs are typically capable of, and once they latch onto a suspect, they don’t let go. Although they’re meant to make law enforcement officers’ jobs easier and provide unique advantages in the field, police dogs are still capable of inflicting serious undue harm.

Police Dog Training and Capabilities

The canine sense of smell is exponentially more powerful than humans’. Police dogs are commonly seen in airports, train stations, border checkpoints, and other high-traffic areas to alert their human companions of any threats in the area, including any illegal substances. They can also track suspects for miles with only a small sample of the offender’s scent. Police dogs accompany officers in the field and will defend their human compatriots when attacked. They’re trained to aid law enforcement in ways only dogs can. They require thorough and consistent training, and they can’t be approached like civilian dogs.

The German shepherd is the most popular breed of police dog, and a properly trained police dog is incredibly dangerous. While a civilian German shepherd may bite with a force of 200-400 psi (pounds per square inch), a fully trained police German shepherd is capable of bite forces exceeding 1,500 psi. They’re trained to latch onto fleeing suspects, and they use all the force they have to keep them from escaping.

Police dogs usually run a much smaller risk of carrying infectious diseases than civilian dogs, as they must be kept up to date on their shots. However, any dog bite can cause infections and be extremely dangerous (depending on what part of the body is bitten). For example, any punctures through the entirety of the skin require immediate medical attention, as do wounds to the face, neck, head, or genitalia.

Most bites from civilian dogs are to the extremities: usually the hands and arms. Police dogs, however, typically bite the suspect’s torso. They may even go for the head or throat if they perceive the suspect to be a serious threat. Because police dogs are trained to bite and hold, they typically won’t release a suspect until commanded to do so by their human supervisor.

Liability for Injuries

Anyone injured by a K-9 unit needs to understand their legal rights. If the dog was improperly trained and inflicted serious, life-threatening wounds on a nonviolent suspect, the people responsible for the dog’s training regimen may be accountable for any undue harm inflicted by the animals they supervise. If a K-9 unit wasn’t up to date on shots and a bitten suspect becomes ill from disease or infection, the dog’s supervisors would face additional liability charges.

Our San Diego Personal injury lawyers at Liljegren Law Group have extensive experience in all types of personal injury cases, ranging from car accidents to wrongful death claims. This includes attacks by police dogs who were improperly trained or handled. Even if you were responsible for a crime, police dogs are trained to pursue and detain suspects. Any kind of grievous wound could be grounds for legal action. Reach out to our team if you have questions concerning regarding a police dog bite. Contact us today to start reviewing your case.