Sunday, 28 September 2008

Not My Best Friend

I don’t know why it is, but I’ve never liked dogs. There’s something about them and I think the feelings mutual. It might stem from when I played football on Sunday’s and slid into their mess on a regular basis on the park pitch. They are of course clever creatures, detecting my dislike and expressing theirs in return.

One of my first encounters with dogs was as a keen probationer. I’d found a couple of untaxed cars and having completed a check knocked on a front door to speak to the owner. This duly opened and I saw two dogs bound down the hallway towards me, a Collie and an Alsatian. What do you do? I think just stay still you’ll be all right. Wrong decision, the Collie sinks it’s teeth into my thigh.

The owner is very apologetic and promises to get her cars taxed. I return limping to the station to examine the damage. I’ve got a couple of puncture wounds and have to get a tetanus injection in my backside. Amuses the team no end, still the nurse was nice.

I started to get a complex a couple of years later, when policing a big event. We were chasing skinheads around who were having a thing with the Anti Nazi League. Police dogs were deployed as we put a cordon in. They were snarling and the police line began to move forwards, except me. A police dog had hold of my trouser leg and then shakes his head ripping the bottom so a large lump of cloth is flapping around. By way of explanation the handler says that they train the dog to grip using old police uniform, so it probably took a liking to the serge.

It didn’t get any better when the same day chasing after the BNP, a vagrants dog came chasing after me, perhaps they too are trained on the police serge, or was the flapping trouser leg that tempted him.

Of course things appear to have worsened over the years. I bumped into an old colleague at another station. He was good old bill and I asked what he was doing with himself. "Oh I’m the licensing officer". I raised an eyebrow, slightly confused. "You haven’t heard have you?", he says and pulls up his sleeve to reveal a disfigured and scarred forearm. He tells the story of how a Pit Bull locked onto his arm and had to be prised off a couple of years previously.

So that’s how it is nowadays. Dogs are used as weapons or at the very least a deterrent by youths and drug dealers. If it’s vicious you will not find me anywhere near a dog. Only last year I tried to seize a dog from a known drug dealer. I kept my distance but he still let it off the collar and it came towards me. I had to take evasive action leaping over a 4 foot high wall. I just had the picture of my mate’s forearm in my head.

We eventually got that one seized and it sat on “doggy death row” all year, pending a court case. We executed a warrant at the same dealers address a few months later and seized a pure bred American Pit Bull. It was massive but nobody claimed ownership so it too met a suitable end. Now there are suspect dogs everywhere. You don’t see the pure bred ones like above. They tend to be mixed Pit Bull and mastiff types. When seized they go off to secret kennels and the cost is about £10 - £15 a day in storage, whilst the matter is investigated. I believe we have almost reached capacity in my force area.

You can't get the dog destroyed unless the court orders it or the owner signs a disclaimer. So we are now in the position where we will seize a dog and return it, on condition that it's chipped, muzzled and kept on a lead at all times. Is Joe Slag really going to comply? I think not. It's time for some common sense - sign the disclaimer or we prosecute and Joe Slag has to pay all storage fees on conclusion. In any event the process needs to be simplified.


Anonymous said...

It's funny, that thing with dogs. I have noticed that the more aggressive type dogs are owned by scum. I think that they should be automatically put down on capture. The dogs I suppose could be re homed.

Tony F

Stressed Out Cop said...

You are right - but a person has a right to his "property" and the state can only deprieve through law. Human rights again - even extending to dogs.