Police receive training to deal with dogs

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Sara Van Cleve
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Arvada Police Department is taking a proactive step in protecting their officers and residents’ pets.

The Arvada Police K-9 Unit and Animal Management partnered to train all officers how to deal with dogs to avoid incidents like those in Commerce City and Adams County where pet dogs were shot and killed by officers.

“We’re trying to minimize officer injury and injury to people’s pets through the education of how a dog acts and reacts,” Avila said.

The training was originally discussed two years ago, but really developed over the last few months due to recent events in other jurisdictions, said Arvada K-9 Unit Officer Ron Avila.

The K-9 Unit and Animal Management taught officers how to read a dog’s body language, how to adjust their body language and ways to stop a dog if it begins to attack without having to use a gun.

“If they can read the body language of dogs, they can know when things are heading south or the dog is under too much pressure and when to back off instead of continuing to pressure the dog,” Avila said.

Officers also received training on what to do if a dog tries to attack them or latches on to them.

“There are different things they can do,” he said. “A spark test on their Tasers might be enough or they can use a coat or ASP [baton] if a dog tries to bite them so it bites the coat or ASP instead.”

Using a gun on a dog is the absolute last resort, just as it is for people, Avila said.

Officers also worked with police K-9 dogs, including Avila’s German shepherd Matzo, to become more comfortable around dogs and to learn how to release a dog that is latched onto them.

While Animal Management, not typical patrol officers, deal with animals that could be considered vicious, most of the calls Arvada Police go on are to homes, and most homes have a dog, Avila said.

“It’s all about confidence around dogs,” he said.

The training was required for all police officers and was well received by everyone from officers to command, Avila said.

Arvada Police is one of the first departments in the metro area to require this type of training for all officers.

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