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Police dogs bite too often: group

The Pivot Legal Society wants police dog protocols improved. (FILE PHOTO)

The Pivot Legal Society wants police dog protocols improved. (FILE PHOTO)

Vancouver and Abbotsford both have a dog problem — police canines are biting people far too often than what their proportionate population in the province should suggest, according to Pivot Legal Society.

It’s an issue B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said she’s working on through a Police Dog Working Group to develop use-of-force standards.

“We are currently in the process of finalizing provincial standards focused on appropriate deployment and other key matters,” she said in a statement.

“Police dogs are an important, effective policing tool — but like any tool, they must be used consistently and effectively.”

Anton’s remarks comes as advocacy group Pivot published three years of research into police dog bites Thursday in a bid to get the provincial government to establish strict regulations on when police dogs can bite.

Doug King, a lawyer with the society, said the main problem is the training — or the lack of it — in some jurisdictions.

He argued a bark-and-hold method — where dogs only bite when in danger or on command — requires more intensive training but is more effective at reducing injuries.

Currently, according to Pivot, most police dog squads in B.C. employ “bite-and-hold” — where the dog bites first, and only lets go upon command. A few notably exceptions are Delta, New Westminster and Saanich, which had fewer injuries compared to other cities.

“We basically have a lawless situation where dogs can be used on anybody,” King said.

Abbotsford and Vancouver had the highest bite rates of all cities looked at — which included RCMP north, southeast, Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland regional jurisdictions — at 12.73 and 14.75 per 100,000 people.

In the Lower Mainland RCMP region, the average bite rate is 3.05.


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