The North Carolina Highway Patrol took its police dogs out of service indefinitely yesterday after a hearing exposed rough obedience techniques such as shocking, suspending, and kicking dogs, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. The patrol has 10 dogs that mostly sniff out drugs. Several troopers testified about the firing of patrol Sgt. Charles L. Jones for mistreating dogs. Jones was fired after a trooper used a cell phone to record footage of him suspending his dog, Ricoh, from a railing, then kicking him at least five times. Jones, who is seeking to be reinstated, said what he did was not abusive and that trainers had used several other rough methods. Ricoh, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, was not seriously hurt.
Troopers said dogs had been shocked with stun guns, kicked, suspended from their leashes until they were nearly unconsciousm, and hit with plastic bottles filled with stones. Troopers talked about twirling dogs on their leashes in a method known as helicoptering; in some cases the dogs were released while they spun in the air. The troopers said the procedures are necessary to control powerful, aggressive dogs that can inflict serious injury. Some police dog training experts dispute the tactics, saying they are relics from a time when dogs were used more for crowd control than drug interdiction. The dog-kicking video became public Monday when it was shown during the hearing. Since then, it has been played nationally. It can be found on YouTube, and popular rapper 50 Cent linked to it from his Web site this week.