SALISBURY, N.C. (WJZY) — Video has emerged showing a North Carolina K-9 handler apparently scolding his dog for exiting the police cruiser, but what he did afterward is now being investigated.
The video shows the officer, whose name was not released, clip the dog’s leash onto its collar and swing the dog over his shoulder before he slammed the animal into the car. He then appears to hit the dog. Another officer is heard saying, “We’re good…no witnesses.”
“I think this was an example of something you should not do,” Roy Taylor, a veteran K-9 handler, said.
Taylor has been a handler for more than 20 years and has been a police chief in three North Carolina cities.
“By slinging the dog over his shoulder, carrying him back, he’s cutting off that blood supply and air for several seconds, and then by throwing him in the vehicle the way he did, he risked causing some cervical spine or cerebral spine injuries to the dog,” Taylor said.
He said besides the health of the dog, the price of the dog is another consideration.
“Sometimes it can be up to $20,000 to $25,000 and the potential damage to the dog’s training,” Taylor said. “Now going forward, the dog’s going to have to reconsider whether he gets out of the car at all.”
In the video, you can hear the other officers ask if their cameras are on and then request they be turned off.
The K-9, Zuul, and the officer are separated while an outside agency investigates.
Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes said the officer’s actions might have been part of training tactics.
“When a K-9 is non-compliant with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog,” Stokes said.
Kyle Heyen, a former police officer who trained dogs for law enforcement agencies has concerns beyond Zuul.
“The actions of the handler were not appropriate,” Heyen said. “If you’re frustrated because that dog came out at that point in time and you respond with that much frustration, it just makes you wonder what that officer is going to do in a real-life situation.”
Stokes would not confirm or deny whether any other officers are under investigation.