Reducing Dog Shootings in Routine Police Encounters: Regulations, Policies, Practices, and Training Implications

Publication Date

July 2019


Karen Amendola, Cesar Perea, and Maria Valdovinos


National awareness and concern over shootings of dogs by law enforcement officers has been increasing in recent years, but national statistics on the issue are not yet available. The goal of this study is to prevent unnecessary shootings of dogs by law enforcement personnel. Concerns over officer safety were weighed and balanced by the researchers in collecting the data and evidence associated with this report. The project’s focus is on the generation of data and information from the field about the issue of dog encounters and pet dogs shot by police in order to support the development of evidence-based, interactive training for law enforcement agencies and officers, as well as to promote the establishment of effective local policies and practices. The project methodology involved a comprehensive, exploratory multi-method approach. The researchers conducted a comprehensive review of information sources, a national survey, and focus groups. Several themes were identified from the focus groups, including officers’ frequent encounters with dogs, problems with dog owners, signs that a dog may attack, and possible reasons why dogs are shot. The focus groups also found that most participants had not received training in dog-specific encounters. Additionally, the national survey found that, of the 38 states whose data were received, 8 had legislation on training or policies related to dog encounters.

Research Design

Non-experimental, Review of research

Research Methods

Literature review, Focus groups, Surveys

Recommended Citation

Amendola, K. L., Valdovinos, M., & Perea, C. (2019). An evidence-based approach to reducing dog shootings in routine police encounters: Regulations, policies, practices, and training implications. National Policing Institute.