Over the past five years, at least 17 people claim they were mistakenly attacked by police dogs from Western Washington law-enforcement agencies. The agencies have paid nearly $1 million in damages, with several large claims pending, reports the Seattle Times. In many cases, individual dogs are responsible for several attacks, an issue dog trainers and experts say is a warning sign that the dog and handler might need additional training.
Pierce County, Wa., paid a $350,000 settlement to a man bitten by a police K-9 German shepherd named Vasko and $2,500 awarded to a 53-year-old woman after she was bitten by Vasko while the dog was tracking a suspect. A third claim is pending. A Seattle Times review of dog-bite claims from the risk managers and insurers of more than 100 Washington cities and counties shows such incidents happen several times a year in the state. Even after multiple bites on innocent people, many K-9s remain on duty.