A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Aug 13, 2019

spcaLA & National Police Foundation Unveil Report to Reduce Dog Shootings in Police Encounters

Statistics indicate that 70% of shots fired by law enforcement are at animals, mostly family pets, then wildlife. In response to a highly publicized shooting of a dog in Hawthorne California, spcaLA developed a course, certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Training and Standards, to assist officers in avoiding lethal force where possible thus enhancing the safety of pets, the officers and members of the public at or near the incident. 

We have worked in concert with the National Canine Research Council (NCRC) and MILO Range, to create an evidenced based report , and an interactive training using a force option simulator.

This 21st century training will transform the way that law enforcement interacts with dogs—tremendously enhancing safety for the officers, the animals and the public.  

Additionally, this program will be unique in that, unlike other simulator programs, we are using family pets in the simulations and NOT trained police dogs or animals actors. No trainer can tell a dog to pretend to be a household pet, nor is it fair to the officers to provide such inadequate training and put them back in the field. 

There are times that an officer must use lethal force to protect him or herself. Where the officers find themselves criminally and/or civilly liable is when the justification for lethal force is not present. When this happens, everyone suffers.

Our collective intention is to make sure that this doesn’t happen and that poor training with outdated information doesn't actually cause a shooting.

Los Angeles County has already made this training MANDATORY for its Bureau of District Attorney Investigators.


  1. This is training that is long overdue but I am happy to see that finally this is being addressed. It is so sad to hear of animals that have been shot just because they are protecting their home and their owners. I worked for a police department (in records) and the officers knew they had to face my wrath if they even thought about shooting an animal! Lethal force should NEVER be the first resort!

  2. Fantastic post.

    Really enjoyed reading it and it held my attention all the way through! Keep it up.

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