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Closed petition Require police carry tranquilizer guns and ban use of police firearms on animals

Please require that the police have tranquilizer guns and training for the safe sedation of animals. Make it law that police firearms cannot be used on dogs and other animals.

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Sedating an animal is much more ethical than shooting them. Shooting animals or pets can cause a lot of anger, trauma and distress in the community. We think this is also detrimental for the police and their community relations.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 16 January 2024

Shooting an animal is a last resort. Expert licensed veterinarians, not police officers, are best placed to administer tranquilizers in a safe, humane way to avoid increasing risk of animal suffering.

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Firearms officers are highly trained and deployed to high risk scenarios where there is a serious threat to life or imminent danger. Police deployments to animal incidents must be authorised and are limited to scenarios where the immediate destruction of an animal is needed due to the danger posed by that animal or to prevent unnecessary suffering where no licensed animal professional is available or able to do it.

Shooting an animal is a last resort and traumatic for all those involved but the use of tranquilizers is complex, involving specialist equipment and expert knowledge. Administering tranquilizers without such expertise, risks ineffective incapacitation, which could escalate situations and result in greater risk to the public and the animal.

Vets are best placed with the knowledge and expertise to authorise and administer the correct tranquilizer and dosage, dependent on the size and species of the animal. Any decision to authorise tranquilizers must be taken in the presence of, or under the instruction of, a veterinary professional. If police were required to tranquilize, in some instances this would inhibit their ability to deal with an immediate threat to safety. However, where a veterinary surgeon or licensed professional is available, they manage the situation and use tranquilizers where appropriate and available. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs handles policy around controls and licences around the prescription of tranquilizers for animal use.

Officers can be called where an animal has sadly been injured and it would prolong the animal’s suffering to await a vet. Recognising the importance of animal welfare, every officer who may be required to shoot an animal in the course of their duties is specially trained in the selection of appropriate firearms and ammunition and how to ensure swift resolution without causing any unnecessary suffering.

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