A professional photographer was bitten by a police dog at the crowded LSU-Mississippi State football game on October 3, 2015.
The victim was attacked and bitten on the thigh as he ran past the dog. The dog andwas tied and laying very close to fans who were clogging the entrance to a photo work room which the photographer was using. The dog, a 12-year-old German Shepherd, was brought into the stadium for bomb detection work.
Several thoughts immediately come to mind about this dog bite incident. First, it was a mistake for the handler to tie his dog near a crowd of people. Given the circumstances, the handler should have known that people might move past the dog in a hurried manner. This kind of stimulus (movement which triggers innate predatory tendencies), has the potential to elicit an aggressive reaction in many dogs, but particularly police dogs. Note that police dogs receive specialized training to attack and apprehend suspects fleeing from police.
This police dog may have been brought into the stadium for bomb detection work; however, it’s likely that the dog was also trained in suspect apprehension. Most police dogs are “multi-taskers” in that the same dog is usually used for different tasks: i.e. bomb detection, drug detection, tracking and suspect apprehension. Also it should be noted that police service dogs are usually taken out of service when they reach eight or nine years of age. A 12-year-old German Shepherd is very old relative to the breed, and this dog’s sensory capacities may not have been functional.
Police dogs trained in suspect apprehension are prone to behavioral error. Examples include attacking innocent bystanders, attacking without command from the handler, and failing to stop an attack once commanded to do so. I have written about the unreliable and dangerous nature of police dogs elsewhere on this website.
Richard Polsky, PhD is available as a police dog bite expert nationwide. Dr. Polsky has worked with plaintiff attorneys in Mississippi and Louisiana as a dog bite expert. More information about the background of Dr. Polsky can be found on his curriculum vitae.