POST discusses officer training for dog encounters

Posted at 11:48 PM, Mar 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-17 01:48:52-04

SANDY, Utah -- Discussion about how officers should treat dogs during encounters was a topic during the quarterly Peace Officer Standards and Training Council Monday.

Last June a Salt Lake City police officer went into a backyard and encountered a Weimeraner named Geist.

The officer said he felt threatened and shot and killed Geist. The dog's death triggered large rallies asking for change.

Since then police agencies have met with the Humane Society and other groups about how to deal with dogs.

"We see a need with officers being able to identify when a dog appears to be aggressive. How do we preemptively avoid that situation, looking over the fence to see if there's chew toys, a dog bowl," said Scott Stephenson, POST director.

Stephenson said officers will make every effort to avoid injuring a dog, but say no matter how hard they try sometimes an officer will have to stop an aggressive dog if he fears for his life and safety.

Geist’s owner Sean Kendall released this statement:

"I'm pleased to know that Utah POST has taken the first step to protect their officers and community members by introducing animal encounter training into training curriculum. This training unfortunately didn't come soon enough to protect Geist but I hope it will prevent another terrible tragedy."