In early November, an Albemarle County police K9 bit and injured a colt owned by an Augusta County farm owner—just a year and a half after a dog with the Charlottesville Police Department attacked a child. Is it time for man’s best friend to be laid off?
While on a jog with its handler November 7, the off-duty and off-leash K9 attacked a 1-month-old horse named Thomas Jefferson, despite being zapped by its shock collar, according to the Daily Progress.
Albemarle County Police Department spokesperson Madeline Curott says the department is conducting an internal administrative investigation to determine if policies and procedures were followed.
“We are not releasing names of those involved so it does not compromise the integrity of the investigation,” she says. However, she did offer that the ACPD has four K9 officers on staff and the commander of the unit is Lieutenant Miller Stoddard, who was not available for comment because of his involvement in the investigation.
C-VILLE was unable to reach Jerry Hatton, owner of Deep Meadow Farm and the colt that was attacked, but county spokesperson Jody Saunders says he has been advised to make a formal complaint to the county’s risk management and attorney’s offices, though he has not yet done so.
When Ringo, a Dutch Shepherd working for the CPD, was accidentally released from the back of his handler’s patrol vehicle in June 2015 and immediately sunk his teeth into a 13-year-old girl standing nearby, Captain Gary Pleasants said he believed the dog reacted to a quick movement she made.
A neighbor who witnessed the dog’s aggression called him vicious. The department put both Ringo and his unnamed handler on administrative leave while the K9 underwent evaluation.
Charlottesville Police spokesperson Lieutenant Steve Upman now says Lieutenant Victor Mitchell, a master trainer with the National Association of Professional Canine Handlers working for the CPD, evaluated Ringo by conducting several tests that concentrated on aggression control and obedience.
Though the handler called for Ringo when he was released from the trunk and the dog did not respond, CPD now deems the dog fit for service. Upman produced an internal report from the evaluation, which said, “Lieutenant Mitchell found the handler had control of the K9 at all times and did not observe any behaviors from the K9 team that caused him concern.”
Ringo and his handler, whom the CPD still chooses not to name, are both still employed. And just four months before the attacking of the girl, the two were recognized for their work during two traffic stops in which Ringo sniffed out 283 grams—or more than 10 ounces—of marijuana, half a gram of crack and a High Point 45-caliber handgun.