General Order 47.1

Last Revised: 08/07/2012


This order consists of the following numbered sections:

47.1.1    Policy and Guiding Practices

47.1.2    Authorized Applications

47.1.3    Guidelines for Deployment

47.1.4    Special procedures

47.1.5    Selection, training and evaluation

47.1.6    K-9 vehicles

47.1.7    Police service dog care and maintenance

47.1.8    Records

47.1.9    Separation from service

Purpose and Scope

The Police Service Dog Program was established to augment police services to the community. Highly trained teams of handlers and canines have evolved from the program and are used to supplement law enforcement operations. The program utilizes the police service dog primarily as a locating tool and secondarily as a use of force tool to apprehend suspects who exhibit an immediate threat to the officers or others or who attempt to evade arrest by flight.

The Department utilizes the Handler Control philosophy of training. This philosophy of training emphasizes the handler having complete control over the actions of the dog. With such control the handler can recall and restrain the dog before a bite occurs. Alternately, the handler can quickly remove the dog from the apprehended suspect if force becomes necessary during the apprehension of a suspect.


I.    Handler: means a police officer specially trained and assigned as a K-9 Officer.

II.    Police service dog: means a dog specifically selected and trained to act as a locating tool or use of force tool to augment law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties.

III.    K-9 team: means a police officer and his/her assigned police service dog certified by the State and authorized by the Department to conduct police service dog applications.

47.1.1 Policy and Guiding Practices

I.    Policy

The Department may employ police service dogs in the following circumstances:

A.    As a locating tool to assist with searching for non-criminals, locating fleeing or hiding crime suspects, locating contraband materials, locating crime scene evidence or conducting other police support functions that a K-9 Team has been specifically trained to perform; or

B.    As a use of force tool to assist officers in the apprehension of individuals when the use of a police service dog is justified and/or is a prudent safety measure based on the following conditions: 1) the severity of the crime; 2) whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the law enforcement officers or others; or 3) whether the suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.

II.    Guiding Practices

A.    Police service dogs are trained and deployed under the concept of “handler control,” where the police service dog handler is ultimately responsible and accountable for the actions of the police service dog.

B.    The Field Operations Division is responsible for the operation and administration of the police service dog program.

C.    A police service dog is worked only by his/her designated handler, except in the following circumstances:

1.    When another officer is directed to do so by a supervisor.

2.    When the designated handler is injured and/or is otherwise unable to command the dog and there is immediate need for the dog to be controlled.

D.    While on duty, a police service dog is always under the designated handler’s direct or immediate control, as follows:

1.    By voice command; or

2.    On leash; or

3.    Contained in a police vehicle.

47.1.2 Authorized Applications

I.    Authorized locating applications

A.    Police service dogs may often be effectively utilized to track or search for:

1.    Non-criminals such as vulnerable adults - individuals who may be disoriented or in need of medical attention.

2.    Subjects wanted for any criminal offense when an apprehension application is not authorized.

3.    Private property, contraband or evidence of crime.

B.    In the circumstances cited, it is necessary for the handler to evaluate the conditions and ability of the police service dog to determine the feasibility of the application.

C.    Olympia K9 handlers follow the practice of tracking on leash. The K-9 handler may exercise discretion to track off leash for officer safety considerations. Examples of safety considerations include; allowing the dog and its leash to maneuver through obstacles to avoid ’hang ups’ and/or the dog becoming tangled, and safety considerations for officers, such as compound and/or building searches. The K9 handler will need to document circumstances surrounding off-leash tracks (i.e., K-9 Track Report, C&I Report, etc.).

D.    Searching for articles may be conducted off-leash.

II.    Authorized apprehension applications

Police service dogs may be used to apprehend a suspect in a crime when the officer reasonably believes, based on the totality of circumstances, that the subject being sought may be armed or otherwise considered an immediate threat to the officer or to public safety. Apprehension applications are considered a use of force because of the potential for the police service dog to bite, pinch, or otherwise injure the subject being apprehended.

III.    Unauthorized applications

A police service dog is generally not appropriate for use in the following circumstances:

A.    Dispersing non-violent crowds or demonstrations;

B.    Riot control (unless there is a clear danger to persons that warrants the use of a police service dog, with supervisor approval);

C.    Apprehension of mentally disturbed persons, when no crime is involved;

D.    Working in areas containing hazardous materials which could harm the dog;

E.    Searching for animals.

IV.    Riot control applications

In instances where circumstances warrant and a supervisor has authorized the application of a police service dog in riot control, the following rules apply:

A.    The police service dog is controlled on a short leash at all times, unless no other means are available to protect a person from serious injury.

B.    The police service dog is not used to initiate offensive action, unless no other means are available to protect a person from serious injury.

47.1.3 Guidelines for Deployment

I.    Use of the police service dog within City limits is determined by the handler.

II.    An on-duty K-9 team may be made available to assist outside agencies with the approval of the on-duty supervisor.

III.    A request to utilize an off-duty K-9 team, whether from within the Department or from an outside agency, is made by the on-duty supervisor or his/her designee.

IV.    When the K-9 team is on an active track, a second officer will accompany the team as a cover officer. If another K-9 officer is on-duty and available to assist, it is preferable to have another K-9 officer act as the secondary officer on an active track.

V.    Prior to deployment, unless it would jeopardize officer safety, the police service dog handler will make an announcement and wait a reasonable time, affording possible suspects the opportunity to surrender. Additional announcements may be necessary given the size of the building or area being searched. The handler will determine when subsequent announcements are needed.

47.1.4 Special procedures

I.    In any situation where the police service dog bites, grabs, pinches or in any manner comes into contact with any subject, the police service dog handler will complete a Use of Force Report. [See 1.4.7]

II.    Whenever a person is bitten or otherwise injured by a police service dog, the following procedures apply:

A.    The shift supervisor shall be informed of the incident without delay.

B.    Medical assistance will be provided as described in General Order 1.4.6.

C.    The supervisor (or designee) shall take photographs of the bite or injury after the wound has been cleaned. The photos shall be properly packaged [See General Order 83.2], labeled “Police Service Dog Incident - Do Not Destroy” and booked into evidence.

D.    If a person claims to have been bitten or injured by a police service dog, but no injury is visible, the supervisor (or designee) shall photograph the area identified by the person as the injured area.

E.    All incidents involving actual or alleged bites or other injuries caused by a police service dog are to be thoroughly documented in an incident report and a Supervisor’s Checklist. [See General Order 1.4.7] The report shall summarize the incident, describe the actual/alleged injuries, indicate that photos were taken and booked, indicate the police service dog’s microchip identification number, and attest that the dog is in good health and current on all required immunizations.

F.    All incidents involving actual or alleged bites or injuries are documented in the police service dog’s personnel file. [See General Order 47.1.7]

47.1.3 Selection, training and evaluation

I.    Selection

Both handlers and police service dogs are selected carefully to assure that each police service dog team works effectively.

A.    Police service dog handlers are selected as described in General Order 16.2, using the criteria specified in 16.2.5(IV).

B.    Police service dogs are selected using the following criteria:

1.    Breeding - police service dogs should be of a breed and lineage that have established a history of success in a law enforcement application.

2.    Health/fitness - police service dogs should be in excellent health and free of defects.

3.    Temperament - police service dogs should have a temperament that is suited to the application. This includes amenability to training and a strong desire to work.

4.    Aptitude - police service dogs should have an aptitude for locating persons and/or property by scent.

II.    Training

A.    Each K-9 team shall successfully complete specialized training and conform to WAC 139.05.915 prior to being used in any police application.

B.    Each handler is responsible for establishing and maintaining a schedule of regular in-service training for his/her police service dog to maintain skills.

C.    Each handler maintains a record of all training exercises and applications. This record is available for inspection by his/her supervisor, the Division Commander or the Professional Standards Lieutenant, on request.

III.    Evaluation

A.    Each police service dog handler prepares an annual evaluation of his/her dog’s performance.

B.    The annual performance evaluation includes, but is not limited to, the following:

1.    In-service training summary;

2.    Service history (i.e., number of tracks, felony arrests, etc.);

3.    Overall performance summary (including overall effectiveness, commendations and complaints received);

4.    Documentation of special issues (injuries or other health problems, advanced or remedial training, etc.);

5.    Annual expense summary.

C.    Each police service dog annual evaluation is reviewed by the Division chain of command prior to filing.

47.1.5 K-9 vehicles

The Department provides a vehicle that is specially-equipped for K-9 use for each police service dog team. [See 41.1.4(II)]

47.1.6 Police service dog care and maintenance

I.    Police service dogs are intelligent, skilled and highly trained working animals. They are valuable Department property that is entrusted to the care of their designated handlers. Police service dogs are not pets, even though in some aspects of their lives they may come to be regarded by their handlers (and their families) in the same manner as valued and respected pets.

II.    Each designated handler is responsible for assuring that his/her assigned police service dog receives the following care and maintenance:

A.    Ample food and water;

B.    Regular exercise (off-duty);

C.    Clean, safe sleeping quarters;

D.    Regular grooming appropriate to the breed;

E.    Regular, non-work-related human attention;

F.    Appropriate supervision and protection (on and off-duty);

G.    Veterinary care, as needed.

III.    Each handler shall be provided with a kennel at the handler’s home.

IV.    Each handler shall make his/her police service dog’s kennel/quarters available for routine inspection by his/her supervisor or the Field Operations Division Commander (or designee). Routine kennel inspections occur at least once a year. Routine inspections take place with no less than 24 hours notice to the handler and at times of day that are convenient to the handler and his/her family.

V.    Unannounced kennel inspections may be conducted at any time by the Field Operations Division Commander (or designee), if he/she has reason to believe that a police service dog is being mistreated, neglected or inappropriately supervised while off-duty.

VI.    When off-duty, a police service dog is to be kept securely kenneled or under the direct control of the handler (or his/her designee) at all times.

VII.    The Department reimburses handlers for reasonable expenses related to the care and maintenance of police service dogs, including, but not limited to, the following:

A.    Cost of food and supplements;

B.    Cost of grooming supplies;

C.    Cost of veterinary services;

D.    Cost of home kenneling;

E.    Other directly related expenses approved, in advance, by the handler’s supervisor (including the cost of commercial kenneling at those times when the handler reasonably must use such service).

47.1.7 Records

I.    Each police service dog has a personnel file that is maintained in the same location as employee personnel files.

II.    Police service dog personnel files contain, but are not limited to, the following:

A.    Pedigree and other registration papers;

B.    Initial purchase contract;

C.    Identification photographs;

D.    License tag information and records;

E.    Identification microchip information;

F.    Immunization records;

G.    Initial handler assignment;

H.    Complete basic training record;

I.    Date entered into field service;

J.    Veterinary records, including the pre-purchase examination record;

K.    K-9 commendations, citizen complaints and Use of Force reports are maintained by the Professional Standards Office for the working life of the dog.

L.    Annual evaluations;

M.    Details of handler transfers (if applicable);

N.    Date removed from field service;

O.    Bill of sale (if applicable) or notice of transfer of ownership.

III.    Each police service dog has a training file that is maintained by the Professional Standards Office.

IV.    Police service dog training files contain, but are not limited to, hard copies of the following documents:

A.    In-service training records;

B.    Weekly training records;

C.    Supplemental training.

47.1.8 Separation from service

I.    Police service dogs separate from service for one of the following reasons:

A.    Permanent unfitness for service due to age, physical incapacity or other factors.

B.    Retirement or reassignment of a handler.

C.    Death.

D.    Discontinuation of the program.

II.    In situations where a handler retires or is reassigned while his/her police service dog is still fit for service, the Department may elect to assign the dog to a new handler or separate the dog from service.

III.    In situations where a police service dog separates from service due to unfitness for service (unless such unfitness relates to viciousness), retirement or reassignment of a handler, or discontinuation of the program, the City offers the first option to receive ownership to the dog’s handler. Exercise of this option is contingent on the following:

A.    The handler signs a waiver that absolves the City of all responsibility regarding:

1.    Liability for all future actions of the dog.

2.    Any and all future expenses related to ownership of the dog.

B.    The handler licenses the dog is his/her name and at his/her expense.

C.    The handler pays a nominal administrative fee (not to exceed $10.00) to the City to affect the change in ownership.

IV.    In situations where a police service dog is separated from service due to unfitness for service (unless such unfitness relates to viciousness), retirement or reassignment of a handler, or discontinuation of the program and the handler elects not to exercise the option to retain personal ownership of the dog, the dog may be sold to a private party under the same conditions as described in 47.1.7(II.A-C) above.

V.    Whenever ownership of a police service dog is transferred from the City to a private owner, copies of the following documents shall be retained in the dog’s personnel file and the originals given to the new owner:

A.    Pedigree and registration papers.

B.    Immunization records.

C.    Veterinary records.

VI.    In situations where a police service dog is separated from service due to unfitness for service that is related to viciousness or terminal illness, the Command Staff may, in the absence of other reasonable alternatives, elect to have the dog humanely destroyed by Animal Services.

VII.    In situations where a police service dog dies while in active service, the Department shall assume all costs associated with cremation of the remains.

VIII.    Police service dogs that die in the line of duty may be accorded such official recognition as is deemed appropriate by the Command Staff.