A CLOSER LOOK: Police say officers have right to use lethal force against vicious dogs

A Closer Look

A Bethel Heights police officer said he shot a dog after the dog bared its teeth and went after him.

BETHEL HEIGHTS, Ark. (KNWA) — Local police say officers have the right to use lethal force when attacked by a dog.

Bethel Heights police officer Stan Young shot a dog that he said bared its teeth and went after him on Thursday. The dog, Sasha, was shot in the leg at a residence and is currently recovering at Springdale Animal Hospital.

Young traveled to the residence after a community member called police about a dog on their porch.

Springdale police officers don’t handle animal calls, but if they are on a call, such as a domestic battery, and attacked by a vicious dog at the scene, they can use lethal force to stop the dog, said Jeff Taylor, the Springdale Police Department’s public information officer.

“If the officer’s gonna get bit, then absolutely we can use deadly force on a vicious animal,” Taylor said. “If a dog is vicious toward us and comes after us, then yes, we’re going to use deadly force.”

Taylor said an officer has few options to protect himself when attacked by a vicious dog.

“There are options [officers] might try, but typically by that time — if [the dog is] vicious — we don’t have any options,” Taylor said. “We don’t carry tranquilizers, we don’t carry a snare or anything like that to catch a dog. You can’t handcuff a dog. You can possibly try to use pepper spray, but that’s not a guarantee.”

Sgt. Kno Phonexayphova with the Lowell Police Department said he has been a police officer for over 16 years and has had numerous encounters with aggressive dogs.

“If you deal with an aggressive dog, obviously you have that right to protect yourself if that dog is trying to take your arms and legs out,” Phonexayphova said. “Typically, you do what you can to protect the public.”

Phonexayphova said in his past encounters with aggressive dogs, he used his voice to stifle an aggressive dog.

Officers can also use batons and pepper spray to stop a vicious dog, according to Phonexayphova.

“You can use less lethal weapons to get that dog away from you,” Phonexayphova said.

Bethel Heights contacted Lowell police for assistance in capturing the dog on Thursday. Phonexayphova sent an animal welfare officer to assist Bethel Heights police.

“The animal welfare officer who went to the scene to assist, dislocated his index finger in the attempt to capture that dog,” Phonexayphova said.

Kevin Ritchey, Sasha’s owner, said Sasha has never been aggressive toward anyone.

Sasha is sedated and will be needing an amputation.

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