The PJ Tatler

Paws Up, Don't Shoot: Texas Lawmakers Push Training Bill to Stop Cops from Shooting Mad Dogs

The North Texas area where I live is one of the safest places in America for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the high percentage of concealed handgun licensees. But that doesn’t mean Texas cops and sheriffs don’t have to take down a perp from time to time. In a dog-eat-dog world, police sometimes have to use deadly force to prevent it from becoming a dog-eat-cop world.

They shoot dogs, don’t they?

Yes, not often, but just enough to trigger a bill in the state’s part-time legislature.

Three North Texas representatives, Helen Giddings, D-Dallas, Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth, and Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, have filed bills requiring animal encounter training for peace officers after several controversial fatal canine shootings. Giddings’ and Collier’s bills are scheduled for public hearing in the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas support Geren’s bill. Of course, who could oppose a bill to teach police how to de-escalate conflicts with any species — especially since everyone agrees that cops don’t want to shoot? After all, some of their best friends are dogs. Yet the line that struck me strange was this:

[Rep. Helen] Giddings said she’s pleased that law enforcement organizations overwhelmingly support legislation for mandatory training.

Aggressive dog threatens cops arresting his master. So, if police and sheriff departments across the state want more training on canine encounters — and the municipalities would pay for it under the terms of the bill — why do we need a state law to tell local law enforcement to do something that they already want to do, and that some have already begun to do?

I may be barking up the wrong tree, but I’m going to say: Because it sounds good in a political ad.