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Police Dog Attacks in Pennsylvania

Filed under Excessive Force, Police Dog Attacks on February 15, 2011

About Pennsylvania Police K9 Unit and Dog Bite / Attack Lawsuits

Legal Use of Police Dogs in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law enforcement officials are allowed to use specially trained dogs to assist them in their police work. Most dogs used for police work are Belgian Malinois dogs or German Shepherd dogs, but other breeds are also used for police work.

All police dogs are required to undergo rigorous training, as are their handlers, but even the best trained dogs may fail to respond appropriately and can attack the wrong person, ignore commands, or cause serious or fatal injury.

Police are not allowed to use dogs to attack people who are not involved in the act of committing a crime or who are not suspects of an unlawful act. Police dogs, which are sometimes also be referred to as “K9 cops” and are specifically trained to act on the handler’s command to track, knock down, and corner suspects.

What Pennsylvania Police Cannot Use Dogs For

Police dogs are not trained for the purpose of killing or severely mauling people or to grab a human by the face or throat, however, they may be trained to bite in such a manner as to subdue a suspect, such as on the arm or leg or groin.

Laws that Protect PA Police Officers from Liability in Dog Attack Lawsuits

There are laws that protect police officers in Pennsylvania from liability when using a dog in the line of duty.?Ǭ For example, if you did something to provoke a police dog and are attacked, you may have limited legal options.?Ǭ And, if you were committing a crime, or were a suspect in a crime, and are injured by a dog because you were resisting arrest, your claims may also be limited.

The Pennsylvania Police Do Not Have Complete Immunity Against Liability

In some situations, you may not be able to sue for a police dog attack, however, law enforcement officials do not have complete immunity against liability in situations where an unprovoked attack by a police dog involves an innocent bystander or on someone who is not a suspect.?Ǭ And, if the use of a dog was unreasonable or not necessary, or the injuries to a human were severe enough, it may be a case of excessive force.

Unprovoked Attacks by Pennsylvania “K9 Cops”

If a police dog attacks a civilian, bystander, or the wrong person, there may be a case for taking legal action against the police department.?Ǭ Also, if a police dog attacks someone without being commanding to, there may also be grounds for action if you were injured.?Ǭ Each case depends upon the circumstances surrounding the attack.?Ǭ Even if the dog is off-duty, it is still required to be under control. For example, an off-duty police officer exercising a police dog off-leash that attacks a child could be held liable for an attack.?Ǭ (Example: Girl, 4, attacked by police dog as she plays in park.)

Even Highly Trained Police Dogs Are Not Perfect

Dogs, even highly trained dogs, do not always do what they are told to do.?Ǭ A dog that does not respond to a command to release a suspect causing serious injury or death, or that becomes too aggressive and seriously mauls or fatally wounds a bystander is unacceptable.?Ǭ A dog that does not act in accordance with its training may put the handler at risk for legal liability for use of excessive force or failure to control an animal.

Philadelphia Police Dog Attack Lawyer

Our civil rights and personal injury trial lawyers are experienced in cases involving police brutality and the use of excessive force.?Ǭ If you, or a loved one were injured by a police dog on or off duty, contact our law offices today to speak with an attorney for free.?Ǭ If you have a case, there is no fee for you to pay unless we obtain a fair settlement or verdict for you.

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