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Other voices: Highway Patrol and dogs don’t mix

The News & Observer of Raleigh
Bryan Beatty, secretary of the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, may have had little choice but to suspend a canine program of the state Highway Patrol in the wake of some scandalous training techniques, but at least he did it. The program will be reviewed.
Truth is, as useful as dogs can be in investigating drug and property crimes, maintaining the program just might not be worth it at this point. The patrol, in the wake of behavioral scandals involving some troopers, has had to fire Sgt. Charles L. Jones for mistreating a dog.
Another trooper had shot cell phone footage of Jones suspending his dog, Ricoh, from a railing, then kicking him repeatedly. Jones’ excuse, given during a hearing over his attempts to get his job back, was that he didn’t hurt the dog and that other rough training techniques had been used.
Other troopers who testified said they hadn’t abused dogs, but said dogs had been shocked with stun guns, kicked, suspended from their leashes until they were nearly unconscious and hit with plastic bottles filled with stones. The defense offered for such training by troopers was that these are big, aggressive dogs that can hurt people, and thus they must be so trained.
That just doesn’t hold up, either with other experts on dog training or with the public. Many people who saw the video of Jones understandably were shocked by it ó evidently including Governor Easley.
The canine program right now is where it needs to be ó inactive. If Beatty can come up with some reliable way to ensure that animals are trained in a humane manner, then perhaps it can be restored. But not now, and maybe not ever.

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