K-9 Unit Attacks Innocent Bystander


Law Enforcement Expert WitnessThis case takes place in New Hampshire and involves a man who was exiting his apartment building during the late evening. As the man made his was across the parking lot towards his vehicle he saw a large aggressive dog and called out for its owners. Upon receiving no reply, he attempted to evade the dog by jumping on top of his vehicle. The dog bit the man’s elbow causing severe injury. The dog was not on a leash, nor was it identified as being a part of a K-9 unit. The police arrived soon after the incident and claimed they were looking for an individual involved in an earlier robbery who did not match the profile of the man who had been bitten. An expert witness with specialty in police activities was retained in the case.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1) Please explain why you are qualified to serve on this case. Do you frequently train dogs for use in K-9 units?
  • 2) Can you explain how these dogs are trained to perform in search situations, and can you describe the conditions under which police dogs act aggressively?
  • 3) Have you served as an expert on a case similar to the one described above?

Expert Witness Response E-007887

My initial thoughts as someone whose practice consists primarily of aggressive dogs is that the primary issue here is whether the state holds owners of companion dogs to a higher standard than dogs serving in K-9 units. If this case involved someone’s pet dog who was running loose without owner verbal or nonverbal control and decided this man posed a threat for some reason and bit that person, I suspect that no one–even the police–would doubt where the responsibility for the attack would lie, i.e., with the dog’s owner. However, if this dog was trained to menace and attack every male he encountered then he would be well-trained. While that might be justifiable in an area when any man outside was considered a potential threat to public safety, the question is whether that was a reasonable assumption in the area in which this dog was turned loose without sufficient supervision.

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