When I arrived at the scene, that brave
little guy was exhausted and squeezed
behind the toilet.  Paramedics were called,
and they administered first aid by
bandaging the Poodle's badly injured leg.  
As we were about to transport the dog
to a 24 hour animal hospital, a television
news crew arrived at the front of the
house.  All the gunfire and radio traffic
had alerted them to something that may
be newsworthy...if they'd only known?

The victim...er, the dog...was whisked
out the back door atop a pillow for his
trip to the hospital.  During his extraction
from behind the toilet and his treatment
by the medics, he didn't growl at anyone;
however, as he sat proudly atop that
pillow and carried past the second officer,
he managed one more toothy growl.

Sadly, the leg had to be amputated, but
his recovery was otherwise complete.  
The woman, whose house had been
invaded, took everything a lot better
than one might expect, and the suspect,
who started everything, was found hiding
in the basement of the house.  The
suspect didn't reside at the dwelling; he'd
just planned to run through the house;
until, he saw the officer in the alley.

As bad as things were, they could have
been a lot worse.  The rounds fired by
the third officer passed through the
kitchen floor and into the basement.  
Fortunately, the suspect was not hit.  I
don't recall why the suspect was being
chased, but he couldn't have done
anything to warrant his accidental

Both shooters were subjected to loss of
pay and remedial firearms training.

While this story has all the elements of
courage, irrational fear, luck and
stupidity, there may come a time during
your career when you'll be confronted by
a really dangerous dog.  Drug dealers like
to keep large breed dogs with a particular
preference for the Pit Bull.  These bottom
feeders will starve, fight or otherwise
abuse their dogs in an effort to make
them as mean as possible.

When I had a district drug enforcement
unit under my command, the unit's
sergeant used a very controlled response
for conducting raids where large dogs
were known, or suspected, to be
present.  One officer would be armed
with a 12 gauge shotgun, and he would
be the designated shooter.  Two officers
would carry the heavy bullet proof
shields.  The shields would be utilized to
force the dog(s) into an area where they
could be confined.  While a few dogs, all
of them Pit Bulls, had to be shot, the
system for confinement proved to be
enormously successful.

If you're really lucky, you'll never have to
fire your service pistol outside the range.  
If you have an irrational fear of dogs,
start working on resolving that fear.  If
you ever have to shoot a dog, make
certain it's really necessary.

A Baltimore police sergeant was attacked
by a Pit Bull.  The dog bit the sergeant
on his inner thigh and wouldn't let go.  
Even though the pain was excruciating,
the sergeant maintained his presence of
mind as he drew his pistol and aimed it at
the dog's head.  He was careful to aim
his shot so that he would not end up
shooting himself.

Remember when I mentioned that bullets
don't always go where they're supposed
to go?  In this instance, the bullet passed
through the entire length of the dog's
body, exited and struck the sergeant in
his lower leg.

I always found lack of fear and my
nightstick to be my best defenses
against biting dogs.  In fact, most dogs
can be intimidated; however, nothing is
ever absolute.  Just remember to treat
dogs with deadly force as you would
anything else -- a response of last resort.
When the first officer checked the second
floor master bedroom, he observed a
woman lying on her bed reading a book.  
Lying beside the woman was her pet
Poodle.  The officer startled the woman
who'd not heard anyone entering her
house.  Before they could exchange any
words, the Poodle was off the bed and
attached to the officer's pants leg.  This
officer had no fear of dogs, and he simply
kicked the dog away.  The dog landed at
the top of the stairway and tumbled
down a few steps.

As the dog recovered his footing, he saw
the second officer standing at the
bottom of the stairway.  The Poodle
growled his intentions and charged
forward.  To be fair, the second officer
did try to back through the closed screen
door, before he fired his service pistol.  

Miraculously, the officer's shot struck the
small target in his left front leg.  Needless
to say, the dog was disoriented as he ran
past the officer into the living room on
his way to the kitchen at the rear of the
house.  Remember the third officer
guarding the rear of the house?  Yes,
another brave police officer not lacking
courage as he charged through the back
door upon hearing the gunfire from

Unfortunately, the third officer was as
Cynophobic as the second officer.  He did
try to escape from the Poodle by
standing on top of the kitchen table.  As
the wounded Poodle tried unsuccessfully
to reach the officer, he was met with
more gunfire.  Three shots were fired this
time.  Fortunately, all missed, and the
Poodle decided he'd had enough.  He ran
back through the house to the stairway
and past the second officer who was now
standing on the other side of the front
screen door.  On his good three legs, he
continued up the stairway, past the first
officer and into the second floor
Police departments use to allow the use
of firearms to destroy animals that were
so badly injured that shooting the animal
would be a humane use of deadly force.  
While some rural police departments may
still allow the use of deadly force to
humanely dispatch an animal, I doubt
you'll find many, if any, urban or
metropolitan police departments still
permitting the practice.

The overriding reason for not shooting
animals is simple and logical.  Bullets have
a way of going places where they're not
intended to go.  Today, animal control
officers are available, or police
departments have other humane means
available...most commonly lethal injection.

There may come a time during your
career where you'll be forced to use
deadly force to protect yourself or others
from a dangerous animal.  For those of
you who join police departments where
encountering bears, mountain lions,
alligators or crocodiles may just be part
of the job, I'm certain your department
will give you plenty of training in handling
those encounters.

No matter what part of the country
you're policing, you will encounter
dogs...some friendly and some not so
friendly.  If you're an animal lover, as I
am, you'll be amazed how many police
officers are deathly afraid of dogs:

Definition of Cynophobia  (Webster's New
World Medical Dictionary)

Cynophobia: An abnormal and persistent
fear of dogs. Sufferers from cynophobia
experience anxiety even though they
realize that most dogs pose no threat.
To avoid dogs, they may barricade yards
or refuse to travel except in an enclosed

"Cynophobia" is derived from the Greek
"kyon" (dog) and "phobos"(fear).

You're going to work with an officer who
doesn't seem to be afraid of anything.  
Then...one day that officer will be
confronted by a growling 27 pound
Poodle, and the officer will act in an
uncharacteristic fashion.

Three officers from my squad were
chasing a suspect on foot when the
suspect entered the front door of a
dwelling.  The officers were in hot
pursuit, so they naturally entered right
behind him.  One officer ran to the
second floor while the second officer
stayed inside the front door.  The third
officer took up a position outside the rear
of the house to prevent the suspect's
escape through the back door.
"While this story has all the elements
of courage, irrational fear, luck and
stupidity, there may come a time
during your career when you'll be
confronted by a really dangerous
dog." ~ Barry M. Baker

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
Today's police officers are
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There are Five
Indispensable Truths
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