Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, PhD, CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”


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Excessive force caused by police K-9s : Resources

The purpose of this page is have a single location on www.dogexpert.com where the visitor k-9 EXCESSIVE FORCEcan find news stories, appellate decisions, and related information regarding excessive force caused by police K9.

Also summarized are a few topics that frequently arise rise in dog bite lawsuits filed against the police.

  1. What is a bite ratio
    The bite ratio is a statistic reflecting a dog’s willingness to bite a person.  It is an important statistic and has significant inferences about a dog’s tendency to use excessive force in the apprehension of a criminal suspect.  A bite ratio is calculated from the number of instances in which the dog inflicted a bite to a suspect divided by the number of times the dog was involved in an apprehension. Bite ratios above 25% are deemed unacceptable. High bite ratios indicate that a dog is difficult to control and suggestive of the dog who is likely to bite with excessive force. It is important to note that bite ratios did not take into account attacks on innocent bystanders or attacks on people that happened in contexts in which the dog has not been deployed. Hence, the bite ratio does not present a complete picture of the dog’s willingness to bite.
  2. Does a police K-9 constitute a deadly force?
    The appellate decision usually referenced as the matter of  Robinette v. Barnes (1988), which ruled police canines do not carry “a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury.” This ruling favors the police. Namely, because it is not classified as a deadly force then when it is used to apprehend a suspect then it will less likely be held unreasonable according to or excessive according to Graham v. Connor.  In other words, when the police use K-9 force it is less likely to cause fourth amendment constitutional issues. In short, a wider range of circumstances may justify its use because of its position on the use of force continuum. What the court missed in this ruling is the fact that there is a substantial risk that the force of a K-9 bite will cause serious and often permanent bodily injury and profound psychological harm.  This ruling is therefore flawed and needs to be challenged in future police K-9 lawsuits.