A California police officer has been caught on camera sitting on top of a K-9 unit and repeatedly punching the animal. The witness said that the dog was crying and obviously in pain, but the police say that the officer was engaged in “routine training” and teaching the animal “who’s in charge.”
Witness Roberto Palomino says that the sound of the animal’s cries is what made him take notice of the situation. He said that the incident was “disturbing to watch.”
“I hear the crying and it caught my attention. As I looked over, I see an officer punching over and over a dog,” Palomino told KTLA News.
“The dog was crying like somebody was running him over or something like that,” he told the station. “It was bad crying.”
He also said that the footage he captured on his phone only shows the very end of the incident.
“Unfortunately, I only record the one punch. But the reason I pulled my phone is because of the hard beating the dog was taking from the officer. Before I pulled my phone, I saw the officer … (punch the dog) around 10 times and that’s the reason why it made me pull my phone,” he said.
According to a statement released by the Vacaville Police Department, the K-9 unit seen in the video has been removed from his handler’s care and “has been placed in the care of a third party outside of the Vacaville Police Department.”
The statement also claimed that the dog was examined by a veterinarian and showed no signs of injury or distress.
In an interview with ABC 7 on Tuesday, Vacaville Police Capt. Matt Lydon said the dog became angry when a toy was taken away from him and tried to bite the officer. The officer was not bitten, but because the dog became hostile, the officer felt that he needed to “establish dominance” over the animal.
“And then the dog, in turn, lunged at the officer and attempted to bite the officer,” Lydon said, adding that, “It’s important is the handler has to have complete control over that K-9 to ensure public safety.”
In a later statement on its Facebook page, the Vacaville Police Department suggested that because K-9 units “are not pets” they can be treated in ways that many pet owners would perceive as abusive.
“Although our canines appear to be pets, just like the ones we all have at home; they are quite different in many ways. If left unguided by a handler, the decisions they make could lead to the injury of the dog, an officer or an innocent community member. All training programs are not alike and need to be tailored to the needs of the specific dog and handler. This is generally achieved by a careful balance of physical discipline and reward based training,” the statement read.
The comments section of the statement is filled with angry posts demanding accountability for the officer and further help for the animal. Many are also calling for a ban on this type of aggressive K-9 “training” in police departments.
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