It was a sad day for the city of Vancouver Washington, directly to the north of Portland. A few days ago, one of the city's police K-9's was stabbed in the chest while attempting to help subdue a fleeing suspect. Despite being rushed to Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital and undergoing surgery, the dog ultimately died of his wounds.
A story like this makes me take account of the tremendous power we have in the training and control of dogs, and for what purposes we would choose to continue training if it might ultimately kill or injure dogs.
Many people may believe that the benefit of safer societies from the use of police dogs justifies their use. Many others, however, believe that dogs can not truly consent to being in harm's way and therefore it is exploitative to the dog to use them in such a manner.
The police K-9 was "Ike," a Belgian Malinois. This is a highly intelligent, intense, athletic dog. They truly love to work. Many of these police K-9s are in their true glory as they run down a suspect. All of his training would have focused on building his confidence, never setting him up for a situation he could not succeed at. His handler would have continued his training and practice, and the team would have been attached with a bond that most dog owner/handlers can only dream of. However, the dog could not have understood that the true purpose of his training could ultimately cause his death.
We have a responsibility to our dogs to truly think through the implications of what we train. Having control of the behavior of another species is an immense responsibility.