Police Dog Bite Leads to Lawsuit, Raises Safety Concerns

CLINTON - The town may face a lawsuit following a June incident in which the Clinton Police Department's new K-9, Ace, bit a five year-old Daisy scout on a tour of the police station.

Resident Jon Fishman first alerted the Board of Selectmen of the issue at its Aug. 21 meeting. According to a letter that Fishman read to the selectmen at that meeting, Ace bit his five year-old daughter "spontaneously" while she and her Daisy kindergarten troop were on a field trip to the Police Station on June 1. A police incident report confirms the occurrence.

The report states that two witnesses said when Fishman's daughter was walking away from Ace, the dog turned and bit her. An ambulance was called to the site and first aid was immediately administered to the girl to stop the bleeding of what the report referred to as a "puncture type of injury."

According to Fishman's letter, his daughter sustained "substantial physical injuries that required immediate emergency medical care." Fishman has filed a notice of intent to sue and has requested that Ace be removed from duty as he "feels very strongly Ace will bite someone again."

"I have never asked that the dog be put down or blamed for the situation that happened?I feel it is in the best interest of the town the dog be removed and taken off duty?No one should go through what me and my family have gone through," he stated to the selectmen.

Ace, a 20 month-old German shepherd/Belgian Malinois cross, was trained by Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. He is licensed with the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association (CPWDA) and specifically trained as a drug-sniffing dog who can detect illicit, illegal drugs such as marijuana, crack cocaine, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. He is currently the Clinton Police force's only K-9 unit.

Due to the pending legal action, Police Chief Todd Lawrie declined to comment specifically on this case but explained that, per the CPWDA, Ace trains with a master certified handler twice a month, focusing on handler protection and narcotics. During these training sessions, dogs are evaluated for their performance in every area including socialization and aggression.

"We are taking all the steps we can to ensure that our police dog remains proficient in all areas of his training, evaluation, and duties," said Lawrie.

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