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APD changes policy on dealing with aggressive dogs

APD changes policy on dealing with aggressive dogs

AUSTIN -- The shooting death of Cisco, a seven-year-old blue heeler in East Austin, and the following public outcry was an eye-opening experience for the Austin Police Department, giving supervisors the opportunity to compare their policies with those of police departments across the country.

In April, APD Officer Thomas Griffin was responding to a domestic disturbance call on East 5th Street. The caller gave the 911 operator the wrong address, which sent Griffin to the home of Michael Paxton. Paxton and his dog Cisco were outside when Griffin pulled up. Griffin says the dog charged at him, so he shot it.

Assistant Police Chief David Carter held meetings with reporters Tuesday afternoon to announce the findings of the investigation surrounding that shooting. He says the officer did not violate any policies and will not be disciplined. However, the department is going to make three changes.

From now on, all police cadets will undergo a two-hour training on dogs and what to do if they are approached by an aggressive dog. Other officers will have a condensed training and will have to take an online course.

The second change involves communications. When police are called out to a scene, the dispatcher will be expected to tell cops if there is history of an aggressive dog at that address. If there is, Animal Control will also be called out.

The final change effects APD policy. If a cop shoots a dog, he or she will have to give a detailed reason why in their police report. That report will be reviewed not only by that officer's supervisor but will be sent up the chain of command.

The training could start as early as Wednesday. The policy change will go into effect July 1.

Cicso's owner says he is happy with the changes. He told KVUE News, "Something is definitely better than nothing…and when it actually seems to be put into effect, I will be much happier.”