SALISBURY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Video emerged showing a Salisbury K-9 handler apparently scolding his dog for exiting the police cruiser, but what he did after is now being investigated.
The video shows the officer 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. Other officers are heard saying there are no witnesses.
Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes wasn’t taking questions at Tuesday’s news conference, so FOX 46 reached out to two K-9 experts who were handlers for years. They broke down the video and shared their thoughts.
“I think this was an example of something you should not do,” Roy Taylor, a veteran K-9 handler, said to FOX 46.
Taylor has been a handler for more than 20 years and has been a police chief in three different 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.
Taylor said there are a number of things to factor into this video. The health of the dog, the price of the dog.
“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. 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,” Chief 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.”
Chief Stokes would not release the officer’s name, nor would he confirm or deny if any other officers are under the microscope.