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K-9 officer shot in self defense after he bites handler

We thought this was a compelling story with a tragic and complicated twist compared to the usual dog-bites-man stories we often read about.

Earlier this month, a K-9 officer named Gunner was shot and killed by his Oakland County Sheriff's Department handler. The gorgeous, well-trained German Shepherd Dog was only five years old when he attacked and severely injured his police partner; literally the hand that feeds him.

After demonstrating some increasingly aggressive behaviors recently, the sheriff's department was investigating any physiological reasons that might explain Gunner's strange behavior. He attended remedial training classes and vet visits.

It was during a follow-up trip to the vet's office that Gunner refused to exit the squad car. He attacked his handler, a 23-year-veteran with the department, lashing out at his head. The police officer protected himself but Gunner latched onto the man's forearm and began biting toward the officer's neck. Neither the handler, nor the veterinarian could get the dog to release. The deputy discharged his weapon one time to get the dog to disengage.

The deputy was rushed to the hospital with severe wounds where he stayed overnight while doctors staved off infection.

In most situations, the reason a dog bites somebody is because the dog has not had proper training or socialization. According to the law, when a dog bites, it is the owner's fault.

In this case, Gunner was well-trained, well-loved, and certainly well-socialized. Perhaps the sheriff's department may be able to recoup some of their investment in Gunner and the medical bills they will consequently incur by investigating Gunner's breeder. If the breeder has a history of producing dogs with medical or mental defects, they may be held liable for not disclosing that information.

Source: myfoxdetroit.com, "K-9 cop fatally shot by partner during attack," Andrea Isom, June 7, 2012

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