Tuesday, October 8, 2013

K9 Unit Attacks Increase Among Latinos and Blacks, Police Tell Critics Dogs Aren't Racist

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The most recent semiannual report released by the Police Assessment Resource Center showed a steady increase in the number of minorities bitten by canine units with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department over the last few years. Although the report cited a lack of adequate supervision from canine handlers, critics and civil rights advocates have accused the department of racially profiling minorities, evident in the prevalence of attacks against non-Caucasians. San Narciso County Police Department spokesperson Ren Williams scoffed at the allegations of racism. "There is no proof whatsoever that dogs have a sense a race, or even comprehend discrimination based on race," he said. "It's a ridiculous and unreasoned attack against these animals."

The catalyst for the study, published Monday, came after a growing number of people were documented as having been arrested during canine deployments. Between January and June of this year, 100 percent of the dog bites were sustained by African Americans and Latinos. This figure marks a 30-percent increase for Latinos and 33-percent increase for blacks.

Williams and other police officers said their teams are taking the study's findings seriously and are actively seeking ways to improve the training of canine units. But they will not entertain discussions of race or bigotry in the absence of biological evidence to suggest that dogs are motivated to attack based on skin color.

"Let's face it, racism is a human problem. It's not something you see in domesticated pets," Williams noted. "Also, dogs are color blind. They can't differentiate between a white or a black or a Latino. So this argument has no merit."

Williams did suggest that other physiological factors could be affecting the behavior of the dogs. He said department veterinarians are conducting additional investigations and analysis.

"Although we wholeheartedly rule out race as a consideration in the rising number of bites among minorities, our scientists are trying to determine whether African Americans and Latinos emit a unique scent that is attracting or riling the dogs," Williams explained. "Possibly based on their diets. Research shows that they tend to eat a lot of foods dogs gravitate toward: battered vegetables, beans, dishes like fried chicken and waffles, and highly seasoned meats such as carnitas and carne asada. But to think that this report illustrates a link to racial stereotyping is offensive and without grounds."

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