A fifth grade student suffered minor puncture wounds when a K-9 officer mistook a class demonstration in drug safety as the real event it was intended to simulate, the Brazil Times reports.
The accident arose at the Red Ribbon Awareness week kick-off event at the Clay County Courthouse in Brazil, Ind. The dog’s partner, Ray Walters, and Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers wanted to show the students how police dogs can detect even the smallest traces of illegal drugs on a person, so they created a mock drug raid and planted a small amount of drugs on one student, who was to perform as an actor.
Unfortunately, as the dog sniffed his way down the line of students, the boy began “moving his legs around,” said police chief Clint McQueen, causing the dog to bite the boy on his left calf. His injuries were minor, but paramedics transported him to St. Vincent Clay Hospital for treatment.
"It was an unfortunate accident," McQueen told the Brazil Times. "Wish it hadn't happened like that but it did. We are trying to evaluate (the incident) to make sure nothing like this happens again."
While the young boy’s mother reacted decidedly calmly — “It's OK, accidents happen,” McQueen reported her as saying — the public has been less forgiving.
“I think they could’ve put a muzzle on the dog. I think they should’ve had the dog on a shorter leash,” Daniel Hamilton told Indiana’s RTV6, adding that he thought the police should’ve “had more control over the dog.”
Some point to the mock drug raid as the critical misstep — that 10- and 11-year-olds are too young to receive such lectures. Also a point of contention is the fact Walters and his K-9 team conducted four scenarios that day, even though the incident took place in the third scenario. Whether the K-9 officer was involved in the final scenario is unknown, however.
According to the police report, when the police dog noticed the boy’s legs shaking — a behavior the report claims was noticed by other students who were present — Walters immediately shouted a command, “Oust!” (the German command for release), and the dog removed his bite, before filing behind another officer.
After trailing the boy to the hospital, Walters notified the boy’s mother.
"(The mother) was very calm and polite. She asked me what had happened and I explained exactly as I have here in my report,” he explained. “She stated that her son was very tough and everything would be fine."
As per operating procedure, the K-9 officer has been removed from service until veterinarian test results determine he’s healthy enough to return to work.
"It wasn't the dog's fault and it wasn't the kid's fault,” Clay County resident Ron Pell said. “But my gosh, the kid is gonna carry those memories for a long time.”