By Christopher Rosenthall
According to the Associated Press, Ryan Stephens of Mason, Ohio was charged with teasing a police dog on April 3. Stephens is scheduled to appear April 21 in municipal court. Officer Bradley Walker wrote that he heard the K9 dog barking uncontrollably inside his patrol car while he was investigating a car crash at a pub early Sunday morning. Walker says Stephens was making barking noises and hissing at the animal. Walker reported that Stephens appeared highly intoxicated, and that when asked why he was harassing the animal, Stephens said,“The dog started it.”
As most of us learned somewhere around the 2nd grade, “he started it” is rarely a justifiable excuse in the eyes of authority. When the “he” you are referring to is a dog sitting inside a car, you’re far less likely to garner sympathy to your cause.
Furthermore, it’s important to note an important element of this arrest that may otherwise be ignored. Much like service animals such as Seeing Eye dogs, police animals are protected by their own sets of laws. While on duty, police animals should never be played with, touched, or (if you find it reasonable) spoken to in their own language unless you have received consent from their supervising officer. It’s entirely conceivable that you could be arrested for barking at a police dog, whereas you may not necessarily be arrested for yelling at a bird that’s in your yard, unless of course, that bird is a member of your local police force. For the sake of argument, we’ll assume it is not.