The unfortunate incident that occurred last week in which police officers pepper-sprayed a domestic cat could have been avoided with proper training

Law enforcement officers are trained for a variety of different situations; however, rarely are expected to interpret animal behavior. In this incident, the body camera footage shows a cat displaying non-aggressive and social feline behaviors.

Animals have become an integral part of the family and community, so it is extremely important for law enforcement to receive training on these increasingly frequent encounters. Unfortunately, there are no comprehensive training programs or training requirements for law enforcement officers nationwide. Keeping people and animals safe requires collaboration between law enforcement and animal control professionals. It is vitally important that law enforcement calls upon animal control professionals to assist them during animal involved incidents.  Animal control officers are familiar with normal and aggressive animal behavior, and they have the equipment and training necessary for safe, humane animal handling.

We urge law enforcement and animal control to work together to avoid such incidents in the future.