Dog Force One

The Necessity of Our Canine Warriors

For thousands of years, canines have been used throughout history for human warfare. Not only that, but fairly recently (oh, I don’t know, in the last few hundred years or so), many nations have taken to using these canine warriors in their country’s police departments. But is it unfair to these noble, honorable animals? To whisk them away from childbirth in service to a cause they can’t possibly comprehend? I am here to tell you that yes. Yes, it is entirely fair. I’ll start you off with a heroic, life-saving dog.

One prime example how these dogs can do so much good.

A large part of the debate, from a purely animal rights perspective, is that the human use of animals in such a capacity tramples over the animal’s right to its own freedom. This can go broader to the use of any animal, of course, but so long as our moral obligation to these creatures doesn’t breach their safety and security, we are well within the confines of proper animal welfare. There will never be any appeasing of the side supporting animal rights short of banning the owning of pets for even civilians, but we can certainly measure whether we are being ethical in our use of canine units regarding animal welfare — a term here referring to the humane treatment of animals.

Aside from the treatment of the dog, there’s the ethical issue of whether a dog is ever an appropriate use of force against a criminal when it comes to local police usage. In a study of training methods for canines, “the most common system of apprehension is the ‘bite and hold’”.

Canine training for the ‘bite and hold’ method

Dogs trained in this fashion have shown effective results in catching fleeing suspects and bringing them into compliance by biting the individual and keeping them in place until the handler arrives. The other method of training canine units is called the ‘bark and hold’. Opponents of canine usage seem to advocate this method as it would seemingly lessen the chance for the use of excessive force. Dogs trained in this method are supposed to corner a suspect and simply intimidate the individual by barking aggressively. The numbers show, however, that these dogs tend to have a higher ratio of unnecessary bites compared to those trained in the former method — ironically resulting more often in the use of excessive force. As for a dog having the capability of being used in a fashion seen as excessive, the same can be said for any police tool. Guns, batons, and tasers all have the capability to be used inappropriately, this comes down to the officer’s training and not the specific use of a canine in his day to day operations.

A more recent depiction of the ‘bark and hold’ training

Another point of contention in using dogs for police work comes in the value of their lives. In most levels of government, the killing of a police service animal is lesser than that of a human officer — a point which many animal activists find unfair to the dogs. This could be seen as a point against the moral and ethical use of dogs, as a criminal may give lesser pause to assaulting a police dog than a police officer. However, a bill was sponsored back in 2015 that would offer greater punishments for interference and intentional wounding of canine units. In fact, there has been a recent federal law that has even gone through and providing these animals with even more legal protection than when this bill was first proposed and sent through the house floor. The lives of dogs in the service aren’t valued less than those of humans when it comes to their handlers. Both police and military funerals are held for fallen canine warriors, and now we’ve made the laws to back that up. Don’t believe me? There’s a whole site dedicated to services for these fallen canines.

Policemen and Canines alike honoring a fallen service dog.

What people need to understand is that we, as a species, have developed a sort of symbiotic relationship with dogs as a species. Regardless of a moral standpoint on a dog being unable to consent to joining the police or military, we certainly provide them with a purpose in life and look out for their well being while under the employment of a police department or military unit. If we should not employ dogs in this way, is it also unethical for dogs used in therapy work? After all, they are not able to properly consent to being used in such a manner, and it could be seen as a violation of their freedom. Humans have relied on dogs for generations, and dogs have relied on us. It is true that dog does not consent to joining a dangerous career, but anyone who works with dogs in these fields can tell you they absolutely enjoy having a purpose. They get excited when they’re called to the task, and form special bonds with their handlers throughout their career. The story of a marine and his canine in Afghanistan is but one of many anecdotal stories out that regarding this strong connection, as well as the pride and respect these handlers hold for their furry companions in the field of duty. Dogs, for better or worse, are a domesticated animal wherein many subspecies will rely on human intervention to survive, and some subspecies are best suited to the task of military and police work due to high aggression levels.

One such image of a marine and his canine companion.

Dogs have long been described as man’s best friend, but they’re so much more than that. They enhance our capability to protect and serve ourselves as a species, and I can say as a former soldier that we hold our canine warriors in high esteem. They are presented with rewards and honors the same as any person, because they, like us, can sacrifice so much for the good of the many. It is not only ethical to employ dogs in our protection, it is an exceptionally good use of their natural traits. It brings them closer to humanity, not farther. They love and play the same as any other dog owned by any civilian, but they also provide a service and have a way of life. The best part is, many of our canine warriors can retire and live with the handler that raised, trained and utilized them in their noble career. It’s a happy ending for all involved.