SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - The sheriff of Dorchester County said an incident caught on video between a deputy and his K-9 partner during a training exercise is being reviewed.
However, Sheriff L.C. Knight said he is not overly concerned that excessive force played a role in the deputy’s response to a bite from the dog.
“My captain over the K-9 will review it," Knight said. “If it’s an excessive use of force, we will address it. At the present time I don’t see where it is because the dog has to listen to the commands of the officer and has to respond to them. Is that an ideal way to handle it? It’s according to the dog. I know that dog is highly active and maybe he and the handler haven’t come to an understanding exactly yet what the handler wants him to do.”
The video appears to show the deputy striking the K-9 after he was bitten by the dog, and the images have garnered attention after they were posted on Facebook.
However, Knight maintained it’s important these aggressive law enforcement dogs learn to respond to commands because their obedience is necessary during stressful encounters.
“These K-9 officers are not pets," Knight said. "They have to be to the point they are under control because we carry them in schools. We carry them on the street. They can’t bite everybody they come close to. There has to be a good understanding between the officer and the dog.”
The K-9 involved is a veteran with the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, and he’s been with his handler for several months.
Both of them have gone through training with the North America Working Police Dogs Association, according to the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, and officials say the team has had no prior issues.
“If he doesn’t respect the hand that feeds him, I mean, why’s he going to respect the hand that’s walking down the street?" Knight said. "Again, he was not listening to the handler’s commands, and it was nothing but excitement. He was excited. He wasn’t listening, and that’s where he’s got to understand and listen to what that handler is telling him.”
The deputy is said to be OK but dealing with some swelling from the bite.