Training offered to officers after dog shooting - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Training offered to officers after dog shooting

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Kenya, a 4-year-old German Shepherd Lab mix. Kenya, a 4-year-old German Shepherd Lab mix.

A Midlands animal rescue organization is partnering with law enforcement agencies to provide education and tools to assist officers in the humane handling of stray pets that may be displaying behaviors that appear to be threatening to officers.

The partnership comes on the heels of last month's fatal shooting of a dog in an Irmo neighborhood after she displayed what the responding police officer described as threatening behavior.

Irmo Police Chief Brian Buck says a Pawmetto Lifeline board member approached him after the September 2 incident about the potential for the training. Buck said having a class for all law enforcement agencies was a good idea.

"We are always open to exploring new techniques to reach the best possible outcome of the situations we face on a daily basis," said Buck. "If we can learn alternative ways to deal with situations like these and have outcomes that keep both our officers and the community safe, we are open to the opportunity."

"It is our goal to provide training for the officers so they can better interpret behaviors of fearful animals and respond so no one is harmed in the process," said Denise Wilkinson, Pawmetto Lifeline CEO. "Our Irmo officers do not encounter stray dogs or lost dogs on a daily basis and it takes time and training to understand the signals a dog is presenting when they feel threatened or fearful.  Through our partnership and training efforts, we hope that police officers in the Midlands will feel better equipped to respond to a situation like this in the future, so the ultimate outcome is not the loss of a beloved companion pet."

On Labor Day, Jared Mann and Karen Counts returned to their Charing Cross home to find a notice on their door that their dog Kenya had been shot. An officer responding to a 911 call from a jogger encountered the 4-year-old German Shepherd and eventually shot the dog in the family's yard.

The family has been adamant that excessive force was used, however, the police officer felt he had no other options available to handle the situation.

"Our officers are animal lovers and the officer that shot Kenya feels horrible about the outcome," said Buck. "He too has pets and he has helped us rescue roaming dogs safely in the past."

The training will be conducted by Teoti Anderson, a certified dog training specialist, and Carolina Wildlife at no cost to the attendees.

The November 1 class is available to any law enforcement officer in the Midlands.

For more information, contact Karen Deas at or call 803-465-9173.

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