Animal advocates have responded to a disturbing video posted on social media Tuesday evening showing an officer in Vacaville, California punching a K9 in the face more than ten times.
According to the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation, the officer seen in the video claimed he had been “correcting” the dog after he lunged at the officer. In the video, the officer sat over the dog punching the animal multiple times in the face.
An eyewitness, Roberto Palomino, videoed the distressing incident after he heard the dog crying in pain the area of Vaca Valley Parkway. He said the police officer had been looking around as if trying to sense if anyone had been watching while he punched the dog repeatedly in the face. The video did not have any sound.
Vacaville police Captain Matt Lydon defended the handler and stated the video didn’t show the part where the reward of a toy had been given to the dog after a correct learning response, but that the dog subsequently refused to release the toy and became aggressive by trying to bite the handler. Lydon stated the handler wanted to make clear the reaction was not acceptable and “corrected” the dog.
The Belgian Malinois is a one-and-a-half-year-old male who joined the force about four months ago. The officer nor the dog have been identified by name.
On Wednesday evening, the police department announced on their Facebook page, that the K-9 involved had been removed from the care of his handler and placed in the care and custody of a third party outside the department pending an investigation.
The officer involved in this incident has been on the force for five years and is new to the K-9 program, according to the department. He and the dog have been training together for three or four months and are not currently on patrol. The dog was examined by a veterinarian and showed no signs of distress or injury.
A third party trainer will also be consulted as police continue to investigate the incident.
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