Dogs Used To Both Intimidate and Bite Prisoners

| Tue Oct. 10, 2006 8:12 PM EDT

This sounds like another Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib story, but the practice of using dogs to both terrify and bite uncooperative prisoners is one that takes place in Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, South Dakota, and Utah. According to Human Rights Watch, in these five states, dogs are used on prisoners who refuse to leave their cells. First, the dogs are used to intimidate the oppositional prisoners. If the intimidation does not work, the dogs are instructed to bite.

The practice is most common in Connecticut and Iowa prisons, according to Human Rights Watch. Arizona and Massachusetts banned the use of dogs this year.

Both German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are used for cell extractions. When a handler and his dog enter a cell block to perform a potential cell extraction, the dog barks loudly, jumps against the cell door and scratches at the window. If the sight and sound of the dog does not get the prisoner to comply, the dog is then released. The officer with the dog is supposed to maintain a hold on the leash, but that does not always happen.

The dog is trained to bite whatever part of the prisoner it can get to, and there is always at least a puncture wound resulting from the bite. A prisoner who continues to resist can wind up with muscle or tissue tearing.