Police Dog Bite Laws You Should Know

Police dogs are known for their incredible sense of smell, hearing, and powerful bite. But did you know that there are laws governing when and how police dogs can bite suspects? Below, we’ll outline some fundamental police dog bite laws you should be aware of.

Use of Force

The use of force by police dogs is governed by the same rules as the use of force by human officers. The use of force by police officers is only justified if the suspect threatens the officer or others. This means that police dogs can only be used to bite suspects if the officer reasonably believes the suspect is a danger to themselves or others.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, in some states, police officers are allowed to use force if a suspect is fleeing a crime scene. This means that a police dog could theoretically be used to bite a fleeing suspect even if they don’t pose an immediate threat.

Bite Criteria

In most states, specific criteria must be met before a police dog is allowed to bite a suspect. For example, the dog must be trained to only bite on command from its handler. Additionally, the officer must reasonably believe that the suspect meets the criteria for the use of force outlined above.

If a police dog bites a suspect without meeting these criteria, the officer could be held liable for any injuries the suspect sustains. Also, the suspect could potentially sue the police department for negligence. If a police dog bite lawsuit is successful in such a case, the victim could receive compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.


Police officers and departments are not held liable for injuries caused by police dogs unless the officer acted in a grossly negligent manner. This means that an officer must have acted in a way that was so reckless or careless that it amounted to a wanton disregard for the safety of others.

For example, if an officer released a police dog to bite a suspect who was not posing a threat, the officer could be held liable for any injuries the suspect sustained. However, it should be noted that in some states, there is a “one bite rule” when it comes to police dogs. The rule essentially states that an officer cannot be held liable for injuries caused by a police dog unless the officer knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous.


Police dog bite lawsuits are only valid if the plaintiff can prove that the officer acted grossly negligently. This can be difficult to do, as courts often give police officers a great deal of leeway when using force.

Additionally, many states have laws that limit the amount of money that can be recovered in a police dog bite lawsuit. This means that even if a plaintiff is successful in proving gross negligence, they may not be able to recover the full amount of damages they are owed.

Police dog bites are governed by a complex set of laws. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a police dog, it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate these laws and maximize your chances of recovering damages.

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