Expert: Training Course Could've Saved Dog's Life

San Diego Police Officers are developing a training program to avoid another fatal interaction with a dog at a crime scene according to the chief of police.

The SDPD was criticized by a Pacific Beach man who said his dog, Burberry, was shot and killed by an officer responding to a call Sunday.

Owner Ian Anderson said while one officer stopped to pet his 6-year-old pit bull, the other barked orders telling Anderson to get the dog back in house.

Soon after that, the officer opened fire. San Diego Police say the dog confronted officers and one officer was forced to shoot. At the time, a department spokesperson said their top priority is preservation of life including animals.

On Wednesday, Chief of Police Shelley Zimmerman said her department was undergoing training on how to handle dogs at crime scenes.

“We are doing training. It's from the Department of Justice,” Zimmerman said on NBC 7 News Today.

Chief Zimmerman appeared on NBC 7 News Today on Wednesday.

“What they demonstrated on that call does not look like there was training involved,” said Robbie Benson, president of San Diego Animals Worthy of Life.

Benson was not present at the time Burberry was shot.

She has worked with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to develop a training program for deputies in similar situations.

“We don’t believe in compromising officer safety at all. We believe safety lies in knowing about dog behavior. How to read it and react to it ," Benson said.

She heard of the deadly shooting and reached out to the SDPD offering help with training. In her opinion, officers need more training than the videos.

“I've been in talks with San Diego since November, 2013,” she said adding she wasn’t sure why there has been a delay in moving forward with training.

Zimmerman acknowledged receiving Benson’s offer for training but said her officers were working to develop scenario-based training and videos to be used by other agencies across the country.

Burberry was shot while officers responded to a domestic disturbance. There were no arrests made.

Chief Shelley Zimmerman spoke to NBC 7 about the department’s dog training practices. NBC 7’s Matt Rascon has more from both sides.
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